Orbital Slotting Issues Resolved, Ukraine’s Lybid Satellite Gets a Launch Date

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LONDON — Ukraine’s civil-military telecommunications satellite, after multiple delays related to carving out a place for itself in a crowded orbital neighborhood, is scheduled for launch in April aboard a Russian-Ukrainian Zenit rocket, a Ukrainian Defense Ministry official said.

The Lybid satellite will carry 30 channels distributed equally over three beams covering Ukraine and parts of Europe, India and West Africa. Col. Pavlo Tertytskyi, the defense and air attaché at Ukraine’s British embassy, said the extent of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s use of the Lybid satellite will depend in part on where Ukrainian forces are deployed with coalition forces.

Tertytskyi outlined the Lybid project here Nov. 7 during the Global Milsatcom conference organized by SMi Group.

The Lybid satellite, built by prime contractor MDA Corp. of Canada under a $254 million financial package organized by Export Development Canada, will operate at Ukraine’s 48 degrees east orbital position thanks to a cooperation agreement with Eutelsat of Paris.

Fleet operator Eutelsat and Ukrainian government authorities settled their differences over Eutelsat’s use of the 36 degrees east position — which has become a high-growth orbital slot for Eutelsat — in 2012.

Lybid Orbital Neighbors

The agreement included Eutelsat’s commitment to moving its own aging satellites to 48 degrees east to permit Ukraine to retain its rights to the slot with the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations affiliate that regulates orbital positions and broadcast frequencies.

Eutelsat now has two satellites at the Ukrainian position, both nearing retirement and in inclined orbits to save fuel.

Richmond, British Columbia-based MDA Corp. hopes to use its role as prime contractor for Lybid to raise its profile beyond its traditional role as a component builder. MDA’s purchase of satellite builder Space Systems/Loral in 2012 gives the company a second path by which to address satellite procurements.

For Lybid, MDA is using a satellite platform built by ISS Reshetnev, Russia’s biggest satellite builder. L3 of the United States, Thales of France and Vertex Antennentechnik GmbH of Germany, owned by General Dynamics, are also providing components for Lybid.

The MDA contract includes the satellite’s construction, its launch aboard a Russian-Ukrainian Zenit-3SLBF rocket from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and two satellite control centers.

There are few orbital slots on the geostationary arc that have so many satellites operating in such tight quarters. The close proximity of satellites using similar frequencies raised the risk of signal interference and required long negotiations with Russia, among others.

Russia’s Gazprom Space Systems satellite fleet operator operates the Yamal 202 satellite at 49 degrees, just one degree from the Lybid slot, and plans to launch the Yamal 601 satellite there. Yamal 601 will have a large Ka-band payload but will also carry C- and Ku-band beams.

The Indian Space Research Organisation, which operates India’s telecommunications satellite fleet, has planned to launch the GSat-9 satellite, with 12 Ku-band transponders, into the 48 degrees east slot.

Tertytskyi said Lybid is the centerpiece of a four-stage satellite telecommunications development program approved by the Ukrainian government for the period to 2032.

The plan ultimately calls for the launch of a second Lybid spacecraft, followed by two new-generation Lybid-M satellites.

He said the Ukrainian armed forces continue to use mobile satellite communications services provided by commercial operators Iridium of the United States, Inmarsat of London and Thuraya of the United Arab Emirates.

 

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