Intelsat Gives Up on IS-4 Following On-orbit Glitch

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Satellite operator Intelsat says it will not attempt to restore service on its aging Intelsat 4 (IS-4) spacecraft, which suffered an on-orbit glitch Feb. 1, and that the company is working to move IS-4 customers to other satellites.

“We are currently working with Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, the manufacturer of the IS-4, to identify the cause of the anomaly,” Dianne VanBeber, a spokeswoman for Bermuda- and Washington-based Intelsat, said Feb. 2 in a written response to questions. “We do not intend to restore service on IS-4 and are investigating all options to restore customer services on other satellites.”

IS-4, a Boeing 601 model craft, is located at 72 degrees east longitude and served customers in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Intelsat said. VanBeber said Intelsat was working to accommodate IS-4 customers “on an individual basis” and that the company has a number of satellites covering the regions that were served by the failed craft.

In a Feb. 1 press release, Intelsat said IS-14, launched in 1995, was scheduled to reach its end-of-service life this year. The company said it had previously disclosed that IS-4 had suffered a failure of its main satellite control processor and was operating on a backup system.

VanBeber said Intelsat’s IS-2 and IS-3R satellites, Boeing 601 models that have been operating since 1994 and 1996, respectively, have the use of their primary and backup satellite control processors. IS-3R is in an inclined orbit, with IS-2 slated to be de-orbited in 2011, and Intelsat does not anticipate any issues or early replacement of these craft, she said.

In keeping with Intelsat’s practice of insuring satellites through launch plus one year of on-orbit operations, IS-4 was not insured, VanBeber said. In its press release, Intelsat said the failure is not expected to significantly impact the company’s financial position or capital spending plans.

VanBeber said the IS-4 payload has been turned off to conserve power for future de-orbiting.