Power System Failure Expected To Cost Amazonas 4A Half its Capacity, Prompt $100M Insurance Claim

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PARIS — The power system failure on the Hispasat Amazonas 4A satellite is likely to result in an estimated 50 percent loss of capacity and an insurance claim equivalent to 50 percent of the satellite’s insured value of 145 million euros ($199 million), industry officials said.

Officials cautioned that the satellite’s owner, Madrid-based Hispasat, has not yet informed insurance underwriters of a precise estimate of the capacity loss. The estimate will depend on how much power margin Hispasat built into the spacecraft and whether the anomaly, in addition to cutting available power, will have the effect of reducing the satellite’s planned 15-year service life.

Amazonas 4A was built by Orbital Sciences of Dulles, Va., and launched in March. Its power system failure — which Orbital, without describing it in detail, has said is specific to Amazonas 4A and does not threaten other Orbital-built satellites — occurred in early April.

Satellite operators often specify that new satellites are built with more power than is needed to fulfill their business plans, in part because solar array efficiency degrades over time, and in part to protect against in-orbit anomalies.

Once Orbital, Hispasat and the satellite’s insurance underwriters agree on the likely cause of the problem, they will need to estimate its effects over 15 years and come to an agreement on the percentage of service capacity that will be lost over the years, and to settle on a correlating insurance payment.

 

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