Solar array glitch sidelines transponders on Apstar-6 satellite

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WASHINGTON — APT Satellite turned off several transponders on its 13-year-old Apstar-6 satellite after a malfunctioning solar array caused a drop in power.

APT Satellite of Hong Kong is working with the satellite’s manufacturer Thales Alenia Space to correct the power issue, which so far appears not to have affected any other satellite systems.

Apstar-6 launched in 2005 on a Long March 3B rocket, and has coverage over the Asia Pacific. The satellite still has two years to fulfill its nominal 15-year design life.

APT Satellite informed the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong May 31 that it pressed the new Apstar-6C satellite into service earlier than anticipated to accommodate impacted customers.

Apstar-6C, a DFH-4 satellite from China Great Wall Industry Corp., launched May 3 on a Long March 3B rocket and still had in-orbit tests to complete that were scheduled to finish in June.

APT Satellite said it discovered the solar array issue May 27 and promptly flew Apstar-6C over to the same orbital slot as Apstar-6 at 134 degrees East. The satellite arrived May 29 and reconnected all affected customers a day later.

Apstar-6C is the replacement satellite for Apstar-6, and carries C- and Ku-band transponders for television broadcasts, internet access, mobile network backhaul and other services. It is the fifth satellite in APT Satellite’s fleet.