Thales Working To Fix Rascom Satellite
[Satellite News – 1-4-08] The Regional African Satellite Communications Organization (Rascom) is facing the prospect that its Rascom-QAF1 satellite will have a much shorter commercial lifetime than expected,
The satellite, placed into orbit in December, is suffering a helium leak and operations have been halted, satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space announced Dec. 29.
Rascom-QAF1 satellite carries 12 Ku-band and eight C-band transponders intended to provide telecommunications services in rural parts of Africa as well as domestic and international connections, direct TV broadcast services and Internet access and has an expected lifetime of 15 years.
The satellite was launched by an Ariane 5, which put the satellite in transfer orbit. As Thales Alenia Space began maneuvers to place the satellite in a more circular orbit, the spacecraft’s motor developed a leak in the pressurized tank. Thales Alenia Space could not find the source of the leak and had to stop the procedure. The company’s priority was to make sure that the satellite was in a safe condition and understand what caused the leak before deciding on a course of action.
Thales Alenia Space could use the propulsion backup subsystem onboard the satellite to place the satellite in its proper orbit, but this would consume propellant intended for station keeping and cut the lifetime of the satellite.
Officials from Thales Alenia Space and Rascom could not be reached for comment.