C-band Reflector on Intelsat New Dawn Fails To Deploy

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PARIS Satellite fleet operator Intelsat said May 3 one of the two principal reflector antennas on its just-launched New Dawn telecommunications satellite has failed to deploy in orbit and that release of the other antenna will await attempts to force the first one to spring loose.

The Intelsat New Dawn satellite was placed into geostationary transfer orbit April 22 by a European Ariane 5 ECA rocket. Since then, the satellite’s manufacturer, Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., has been overseeing the transfer of the satellite from the point where it was released by the rocket to its test location, at 23.1 degrees east longitude in geostationary orbit. The satellite’s final operating location is 32.8 degrees east, where it is scheduled to serve mainly an African audience.

Orbital has told Intelsat that the C-band reflector’s ejection-release mechanism has functioned, releasing a series of pins that hold the antenna close to the satellite’s body for launch, Intelsat said.

But other data, including temperature readings from the satellite, have confirmed that the reflector remains stuck in place.

Intelsat spokeswoman Dianne J. VanBeber said in a May 3 interview that ground teams have begun a series of maneuvers to remedy the situation. One, nicknamed “rock n’ roll,” consists of shaking the satellite. Another will include exposing the stuck antenna to heat from the sun, alternating with exposure to cold, in an attempt to force deployment.

Intelsat said it would delay releasing the Ku-band reflector while the unblocking attempts on the C-band reflector are continued. The satellite has 28 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders when measured in 36-megahertz equivalents. Aside from the blocked C-band reflector, the satellite is functioning normally, Intelsat said.

Intelsat New Dawn is owned by a joint venture of Luxembourg- and Washington-based Intelsat and Convergence Partners of South Africa. Valued at $250 million including construction, launch and insurance, Intelsat New Dawn is intended to replace Intelsat’s Galaxy 11 satellite at 32.8 degrees east. Intelsat estimates that Galaxy 11 will remain operational until April 2015.