Space Systems/Loral Evaluating Another Solar Array Deployment Issue

[Satellite News 06-05-12] Loral subsidiary Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) is evaluating a delayed south solar array deployment on the Intelsat-19 (IS-19) satellite it built for FSS operator Intelsat, the manufacturer confirmed June 4.

   The satellite, launched June 1 on a Sea Launch Zenit rocket from an oceanic platform on the Equator, successfully deployed its north solar array according to plan. SS/L said all other subsystems were functioning normally at the time of the launch.
   “The satellite is in a secure configuration in its geostationary transfer orbit while SS/L and Intelsat pursue corrective actions,” SS/L said in a company statement issued June 4. “SS/L is also evaluating what effect this event may have, if any, on other satellites under construction.”
   Intelsat only confirmed that there was a delay in the solar array deployment on IS-19. “Intelsat and Space Systems/Loral, the manufacturer of the satellite, are investigating the cause and are pursuing corrective actions. The spacecraft is secure at this time in geostationary transfer orbit,” Intelsat said in a separate statement.
   The IS-19 spacecraft is intended to replace the operator’s Intelsat-8 (IS-8) satellite located at the 166 degrees East orbital location. According to Intelsat, IS-8 has enough fuel to continue operating until late 2019. But in addition to taking IS-8 customers to a new satellite, IS-19 also was designed as a critical element in Intelsat’s planned global network that aims to provide broadband communications to aeronautical and maritime customers.
   The IS-19 is not the first SS/L satellite to experience solar array difficulties. In May 2011, the SS/L-built Estrela do Sul-2 satellite was unable to deploy one of its solar arrays after a small nylon clip holding the solar-array cabling in place came loose. According to Estrela do Sul-2 owner Telesat, the loose cable snagged on a metal clip that holds the array to the satellite’s body in stowed position for launch, preventing deployment of the array. The cabling then snapped under the stress of the launch and broke a piece of the solar array.
   Telesat received a $132.7 million insurance claim as a result of the anomaly, claiming that the solar-array problem would limit the satellite to 60 percent of its expected broadcast capacity and a 12-year service life instead of its intended 15-year life cycle.
   SS/L is currently managing a long list of satellite-deliveries. Telesat’s other SS/L-built satellite, Nimiq 6, was launched May 18 and is functioning normally, according to the operator.
   Hughes Networks Systems’ SS/L-built EchoStar 17 satellite, formerly named Jupiter, recently arrived at the European Space Center in French Guiana in preparation for an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket launch in late June or early July. The all Ka-band satellite aims to provide consumer broadband services.
   That Ariane 5 launch also will carry Europe’s MSG-3 meteorological satellite, which had been scheduled for deployment mid-June. But the mission was postponed in mid-May to give SS/L the time it needed to perform additional verifications on the spacecraft. SS/L did not say whether the additional verifications had to do with the satellite’s solar array deployment mechanism.
   The SES-5 telecommunications satellite, also built by SS/L for SES, arrived at Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan May 21 in preparation for a June launch aboard an International Launch Services Proton rocket.

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