Antenna glitch disconnects Telkom-1 satellite customers in Indonesia

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WASHINGTON — An antenna-pointing error that’s proving difficult to fix has prompted PT Telkom Indonesia to migrate customers off of its oldest operational satellite.

The state-owned satellite operator said Aug. 26 that Telkom-1, an 18-year-old satellite three years past its design life, lost antenna lock the day before, disrupting service for customers. PT Telkom enlisted the help of of the satellite’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, to restore service within the same day, but was unable to do so.

PT Telkom said Aug. 28 it was moving several dozen affected customers to the Telkom-2 satellite, launched in 2005, and the Telkom-3S, launched earlier this year, as well as other third-party satellites.

Telkom-1 supported 63 subscriber customers, the company said, with eight VSAT network operators counting for around 12,000 out of 15,000 total connected sites. PT Telkom said customers from the satellite should be fully transferred to alternative transponders by Aug. 30. Repointing ground segment antennas to link with the replacement capacity should be finished by Sept. 10, the company said.

PT Telkom said Lockheed Martin estimated as recently as 2016 that Telkom-1 could operate nominally until at least 2019.

In an Aug. 28 email to SpaceNews, Lockheed Martin said: “Telkom-1 is an A2100 spacecraft that was launched on Aug. 12, 1999 with a 15 year design life and is presently 18 years old. Lockheed Martin is working closely with PT-Telkom on the anomaly of their satellite.”

PT Telkom did not immediately respond to SpaceNews inquiries about the status of Telkom-1. In a statement, PT Telkom said its satellite business comprises just 0.6 percent of the Telkom Group’s total revenue.

Telkom-1 is insured by an Indonesian insurance company, Jasindo.

PT Telkom has a new satellite dubbed Telkom-4 under construction with Space Systems Loral in Palo Alto, California. It is expected to launch in 2018.

PT Telkom has said it intends to field two new high-throughput satellites, and is collaborating with Intelsat on the use of the 157 degrees east orbital location, where Telkom-2 and Intelsat-20 are co-located.