Integrating the Digital Payload into Intelsat 29e

By Peter Huang, Senior Manager, Space Systems Acquisition

Part of a series from Intelsat team members overseeing the launch of Intelsat 29e (IS-29e), the first Intelsat EpicNG® high throughput satellite, set to be launched in early 2016.

In an important milestone, the digital payload on IS-29e (pictured at left) has been fully integrated into the satellite bus. What’s exciting about this standard step in the integration process is that the Intelsat EpicNG payload is the first ever digital payload in the Intelsat fleet. It represents the latest generation of high performance technology that Boeing initially developed for use on the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Wideband Global SATCOM (“WGS”) satellites, and is now provided exclusively for commercial use on the Intelsat EpicNG satellite platform.

The digital design is a first for fixed satellite service, commercial high throughput satellites (“HTS”) and sets Intelsat EpicNG apart from all other HTS satellites that are currently in-orbit or launching in the near future. A discriminating feature of the digital payload is its ability to reconfigure the uplink-to-downlink beam connectivity after the satellite has been launched (unlike current satellites which are fixed for the life of the satellite, at time of launch). This allows incredible flexibility for Intelsat to adapt to the ever evolving business climate, new business plans, and changing customer requirements.

Here is the digital payload being hoisted into the IS-29e satellite:

DP Blog Pic 1

After installation of the digital payload, IS-29e was successfully tested end-to-end under ambient conditions. Next is the testing of the spacecraft, and its digital payload, under vacuum and temperature conditions to simulate what the satellite will experience once on-station. In this Spacecraft Thermal Vacuum (SCTV) testing, the spacecraft will be rolled into a large vacuum chamber that will be pumped down to simulate the airless environment of space, and then thermal cycled to simulate the hot and cold temperatures that the satellite will see over its lifetime.

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