Telenor Places Retired Thor 2 into Graveyard Orbit

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Telenor Satellite Broadcasting of Norway on Jan. 14 said it had retired its Thor 2 satellite by placing it more than 350 kilometers above the geostationary arc, in keeping with international guidelines on space-debris mitigation.

Oslo-based Telenor said Thor 2, built by Boeing and launched in May 1997, had operated in inclined orbit since 2008 and had generated revenue from capacity sales until it was taken out of service at the end of 2012.

Thor 2 was replaced by Thor 5 in 2008 at 1 degree west longitude.

Most of the world’s spacefaring nations have signed nonbinding protocols calling for spent satellites and rocket stages to be “passivated,” a procedure that includes draining batteries and fuel tanks to prevent on-orbit explosions that create hazardous debris. The guidelines also call for telecommunications satellites operating in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the equator — too high to be drifted into an atmospheric re-entry orbit — to be moved out of the increasingly congested geostationary arc upon retirement and into higher graveyard orbits.