Spanish government satellite operator, Hisdesat Strategic Services (Hisdesat), announced (8 March) that it has signed a launch contract with US company SpaceX, for a shared Falcon 9 launch near the end of 2017. Hisdesat originally had a contract – signed in 2010 – with Russian launch provider ISC Kosmotras, for the use of a Dnepr light-launcher in 2012 however, this launch did not materialise due to political issues surrounding the Russia-Ukraine relationship behind the rocket. In July, 2016, Hisdesat officially cancelled its contract with Kosmotras and began looking for a alternative launch provider.
The Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite has reportedly been in storage in the manufacturer’s, Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus DS), facilities since 2014. It is also hosting two secondary payloads; an AIS (Automatic Identification System) payload for Canadian maritime tracking company exactEarth and a Radio Occultation and Heavy Precipitation (ROHP) experiment for the ICE (Institute de Ciencies de l’Espai) located in the Autonomous University of Barcelona.