[Satellite TODAY 03-27-12] Russian engineers intentionally crashed the Express AM4 communications satellite and have declared the mission a total loss, Russian space officials announced March 26.
The satellite has been stranded in a useless orbit since August after experiencing an anomaly during its launch. EADS Astrium, the spacecraft’s prime contractor, guided the satellite on a controlled descent to the Pacific Ocean region north of Hawaii.
Polar Broadband Systems, a Russian start-up company, said it would have purchased the faulty satellite to serve the Antarctic research community. The company proposed raising Express AM4's orbit to an altitude between 15,500 miles and 29,000 miles. “Instead of being stationed over the equator as originally planned, the satellite would be in an orbit with an inclination of 51.1 degrees, placing the craft high in the sky over Antarctic research sites,” Polar Broadband said in a statement.
Russian engineers, however, determined Express AM4 did not have enough propellant to reach its operational orbit and still perform its mission.
The satellite would have provided communications coverage over Russia and neighboring countries for state-owned Russian Satellite Communications Co. (RSCC) with 10 antennas and 63 active C-band, Ku-band, Ka-band and L-band transponders. With the capacity to generate up to 16 kilowatts of electricity, Express AM4 was the most powerful satellite ever built in Europe.
Russia collected an insurance payout and ordered a replacement satellite for launch in late 2013.