Credit: MET Laboratories/Satellite 2017 Credit: MET Laboratories/Satellite 2017


The annual Satellite conference and exhibition in Washington has become a major venue for the satellite industry. But this year, the chief executive of satellite fleet operator SES — one of the two biggest commercial operators worldwide — will not be attending.

Chief Executive Karim Michel Sabbagh explained his reasoning.

Why aren’t you going to the Washington satellite conference?

We have a lot of things going on in March that were planned well ahead so it is part of the operational priorities that we are rolling up in 2017. We knew nine months ago that a lot of the green lighting would happen in February and March, and this is a week that I need to invest in our business. It’s a question of priorities and where I need to deploy my time. However, a number of my colleagues are participating, Steve Collar, O3b CEO, is going to be there, and our development chief Christophe de Hauwer and our Chief Commercial Officer Ferdinand Kayser.

Is this related to recent incidents that have given U.S. border control a bad name?

Not at all. I have entrusted the United States with the education of my two sons. I have nothing more precious to me than that. My faith in the U.S. is unshaken.

Was it related to SES not deciding to have an expensive stand?

There were things in 2016 that we wanted to do that have moved to 2017, and so it was a matter of priorities, and where resources can be deployed during this part of the year. The fact that a number of our colleagues are going there is self-explanatory: This conference continues to be a central meeting point for our industry.

But there are a number of exciting things we are working on. Some of these will come out in early April, and when they do you will appreciate that this was a full-time job for the CEO of SES.

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Peter B. de Selding
Peter B. de Selding

Peter de Selding is a Co-Founder and editor for He started SpaceIntelReport in 2017 after 26 years as the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews where he covered the commercial satellite, launch and the international space businesses. He is widely considered the preeminent reporter in the space industry and is a must read for space executives. Follow Peter @pbdes

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