The Intelsat 29e satellite is considered a "total loss"



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After suffering damage in orbit two weeks ago, the satellite communications company Intelsat declared that its Intelsat 29e spacecraft can not be rescued.

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Derek Richardson

April 20, 2019

A representation of the Intelsat 29e communications satellite in orbit. Image credit: Intelsat

A representation of the Intelsat 29e communications satellite in orbit. Image credit: Intelsat

After suffering damage in orbit two weeks ago, the satellite communications company Intelsat declared that its Intelsat 29e spacecraft can not be rescued.

Located in a geostationary orbit some 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) above the Americas, Intelsat 29e, which cost the company more than $ 400 million, had served clients since shortly after its launch in January 2016.

"On April 7, the Intelsat 29e propulsion system suffered damage that caused a leak of the propellant on board the satellite, causing an interruption of service for satellite customers," according to an April 18, 2019 statement from Intelsat. . "While working to recover the satellite, a second anomaly occurred, after which all efforts to recover the satellite were unsuccessful."

Intelsat 29e as seen before its launch in January 2016. Photo credit: Boeing

Intelsat 29e as seen before its launch in January 2016. Photo credit: Boeing

While it is not known exactly what happened, the images of ExoAnalytic Solutions on April 12 showed debris that left the spacecraft over a period of several hours. In addition, Intelsat 29e is moving away from its slot approximately one degree per day to the east, according to Ars Technica.

With the unrecoverable spacecraft, Intelsat said it is working to transfer the service from customers to other satellites in the area. As of now, it is not clear if the anomaly will affect other satellites in geostationary orbit.

"The migration and restoration of the service are under way; "It highlights the resilience of the Intelsat fleet and the benefit of the robust Ku-band open architecture ecosystem," says the Intelsat statement.

Launched on January 27, 2016, on an Ariane 5 rocket from the Space Center of Guyana in South America, the satellite was placed in a geostationary transfer orbit. Later, it used thrusters on board to circulate its orbit and insert itself at 50 degrees west longitude over North and South America.

Intelsat 29e was built on the Boeing 702MP platform and was the first of the next generation EpicNG high-performance satellites.

The satellite had 14,445 pounds (6,552 kilograms) at launch and measured approximately 24.6 by 9.8 by 6.6 feet (7.5 by 3 by 2 meters). They are two solar panels that produce around 15.8 kilowatts of power. It was designed to last at least 15 years in orbit.

According to Intelsat, operates a fleet of more than 50 satellites worldwide, with short-term plans to launch two more: Intelsat 39 on an Ariane 5 later in 2019 and Galaxy 30 sometime in 2020.

Video courtesy of ExoAnalytic Solutions

Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider

Tagged: Boeing Intelsat Intelsat 29e Lead Stories

Derek Richardson

Derek Richardson holds a degree in media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While in Washburn, he was the administrative director of the student-led newspaper, Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity. He met with members of the SpaceFlight Insider team during the flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the MUOS-4 satellite. Richardson joined our team soon after.

His pbadion for space flared when he saw the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery in space on October 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated into orbit and shows no sign of slowing down. After venturing into the mathematics and engineering courses at the university, he soon realized that his true calling was to communicate with others about space. Since joining SpaceFlight Insider in 2015, Richardson has worked to increase the quality of our content, eventually becoming our administrative editor. @TheSpaceWriter


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