Launch service providers Sea Launch LLC and Arianespace said the April 12 launch of Japan’s JCSAT-9 telecommunications satellite is an example of the continued relevance of the alliance forged between the two competing companies.
Tokyo-based JSat Corp.’s JCSAT-9 was successfully placed into geostationary transfer orbit by a Sea Launch Zenit 3SL vehicle in what Rob Peckham, Sea Launch’s interim president, said was about as accurate as a launch can be.
Peckham said the rocket placed the 4,401-kilogram JCSAT-9 into a geostationary transfer orbit whose apogee was 35,725.8 kilometers — just 200 meters away from the target . Perigee and orbital inclination were 1,685 kilometers and 0.0 degrees, respectively — also on target.
JSat Chief Executive Kiyoshi Isozaki said it was “a perfect launch.” The company, which owns a fleet of nine telecommunications spacecraft and is Asia’s biggest satellite-fleet operator, expects to conduct its next launch, of the JSCAT-10 satellite, this summer aboard a European Ariane 5 vehicle.
Ted Gavrilis, president of Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems, which built JCSAT-9, said the launch accuracy will guarantee JSat Corp. a service life of up to 18 years in orbit. The contracted service life is at least 12 years. Lockheed Martin also is building the JCSAT-10 satellite to be launched this summer.
J CSAT-9 originally was scheduled for launch aboard an Ariane 5 but was switched to Sea Launch because the Arianespace launch consortium’s manifest is full and could not accommodate an April 2006 mission .
Arianespace Chief Executive Jean-Yves Le Gall said that in handing the launch off to Sea Launch as part of the two companies’ alliance, “we have demonstrated that no matter how crowded the launch manifests are, we can guarantee on-time delivery.”
For JSat, the urgency of launching JCS AT-9 became greater following the July 2005 failure of the JCSAT-1B satellite, a Boeing 601 model. Launched in December 1997 with a scheduled 12-year service life, JCSAT-1B suffered a sudden failure of its propulsion system and lost attitude control.
JSat moved an in-orbit spare satellite, JCSAT-R, into the failed satellite’s position and in October ordered the JCSAT-11 satellite from Lockheed Martin. JCSAT-R is the only in-orbit backup spacecraft owned by JSAT.
JSat has reported that the loss of JCSAT-1B has cost the company about 14.2 billion Japanese yen ($120 million), including revenues lost between the time of the satellite failure and the arrival of the replacement spacecraft.
The company said its financial performance for the fiscal year ending March 31 likely will include a net loss due in part to the revenue shortfall following the JCSAT-1B failure. The losses are likely to be partly offset by an expected insurance settlement and by an improved overall satellite telecommunications business climate, according to JSat.
JCSAT-9 will be moved into final orbital position at 132 degrees east longitude in the coming weeks and is scheduled to begin commercial service in early June, according to JSat. The satellite carries 20 Ku-band and 20 C-band transponders for fixed telecommunications and also an S-band transponder for mobile communications services.
The new satellite will replace the N-STARa, a Space Systems/Loral-built spacecraft that was launched in mid-1995 and has a scheduled 10-year service life.