Built by Boeing Satellite Systems in El Segundo, Calif., near Los Angeles, the high-power Boeing GEM (geo mobile) spacecraft system includes Thuraya-1, Thuraya-2 and a ground spare, Thuraya-3. In October 2000, Sea Launch successfuly placed Thuraya-1 - at 5,108 kg (11,260 lb), the heaviest commercial spacecraft ever launched - into orbit. The system began commercial operations a few months later. The 5,177 kg (11,413 lb) Thuraya-2 spacecraft is designed to further support Thuraya's regional mobile communications services.
The Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company, based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, offers cost-effective, satellite-based mobile telephone services to nearly one third of the globe. Through its dynamic dual mode handsets and satellite payphones, Thuraya enhances freedom of movement and connectivity. The $1 billion (U.S.) regional mobile telecommunications via satellite (GMPCS) system is helping to meet the need for affordable, high-quality mobile phone services to urban hubs as well as remote communities. Through a partnership with leading national telecom and mobile communications companies, Thuraya provides blanket-to-blanket coverage to more than 100 countries in Europe, the Middle East, North and Central Africa, Central and Southern Asia - a landmass populated by an estimated 2.3 billion people. Thuraya offers satellite, GSM (cellular) service and location determination system (GPS) in a single dual-mode handset that offers voice, data, fax and short messaging services.