Intelsat 30 Goes to Work

Intelsat 30, hosting the DLA-1 payload for DirecTV Latin America, was launched on 16 October, and has started service at its location of 95° West. Jean-Luc Froeliger, Vice President, Satellite Operations and Engineering, discussed the five-and-a-half week journey from lift-off to service.

Tell us about the launch of IS-30.
The space voyage of IS-30 began on 16 October in Kourou, French Guiana after a 45-minute delay due to weather and a spacecraft status issue that was resolved in record time. After a smooth 30-minute ride on the Ariane 5 launch vehicle, the satellite separated over the Indian Ocean at an altitude of about 1,000 kilometers.

What happened after separation?
Separation is when the work of the launch vehicle provider (Arianespace) ends and when the Intelsat Satellite Operations and Engineering staff takes over. First, we had the initial “Acquisition of Signal,” or “AOS,” which is the initial reception of live data from the satellite. AOS occurred about 10 minutes after separation, with the signal captured by a ground station in Hassan, India.

For about 10 days, a team of approximately 35 Intelsat and Space System Loral engineers gathered in our Launch Control Center in Long Beach, California to maneuver the satellite to geostationary orbit at 36,000 kilometers altitude.

During that phase, we deployed the solar arrays, confirming that the satellite will generate enough power to operate its mission. Next were the Apogee Maneuvers, a series of propulsion firings to raise the satellite to geostationary altitude.

The next critical event was the deployment of the East and West antennas, also called “reflectors.” The deployments had to occur at specific times during the day when the thermal conditions on the reflectors were optimal.  Deployment of the four reflectors was accomplished successfully on 23 October.

What happened next?
During the two weeks following reflector deployments, Intelsat performed In Orbit Tests to check the various functions of the satellite. Then, beginning 8 November at the completion of the In Orbit Tests, the satellite was drifted from its test location at 132°W to its final orbital location at 95°W.

The satellite arrived at its final orbital location on 19 November. The one month journey from launch to in service readiness (16 October to 19 November) was one of the shortest ever, thanks to the hard work and dedication of a many Intelsat employees.

What is the take away of the IS-30 journey to 95°W?
The satellite journey from launch to service is always an exciting time for our staff. The IS-30 journey was one of the smoothest we have experienced in years. All operations were performed as planned, the satellite behaved as expected or better, and the flight crew was on top of its game throughout the mission.

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