Intelsat 34: Our Next Satellite Set to Launch

By Mohinder Guru, Senior Manager, Intelsat Spacecraft Program Office (pictured)

First in a series from Intelsat team members overseeing the launch of Intelsat 34 (IS-34).

I never get tired of the astonishing feat of launching a satellite into space. This is my 12th launch while working for Intelsat, and every mission has its own excitement and sense of urgency…especially this one.

Intelsat 34 is an exceptional satellite in every way. It is a critically important satellite for our customers, hosting a DTH platform and sending video programming for blue chips like Fox and HBO across Latin America. It also includes a very important mobility payload, allowing passengers and vessels in the North Atlantic to get broadband whenever they want it. IS-34 also replaces two of our most hardworking satellites ever, IS-805 and Galaxy 11.

Intelsat 34 is scheduled for launch on 20 August, 2015. It will be located at 304.5°E. The satellite’s C-band capacity will enable content distribution for Intelsat’s Latin American media customers and enhance Intelsat’s already strong pan-regional cable distribution neighborhoods for the region. It will also provide Ku-band broadband connectivity for maritime and aeronautical customers across the mid-Atlantic, further strengthening Intelsat’s leading global mobility platform.

But, first it has to be launched and there are many integral steps that need to be completed prior to shipping the satellite to the launch pad.

Earlier in July, we successfully completed the final testing and build of IS-34. We do this to ensure the satellite’s readiness prior to it being shipped from SSL’s manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, California, to the launch site in French Guiana.

Now, for the shipping. Despite the fact that this is the 50th satellite that SSL has built and shipped for Intelsat, moving a 15,000 kg container is no easy feat and requires tremendous agility and attention to detail.

The spacecraft was loaded into its shipping container…
IS-34-Loading-into-Container
The container was then loaded onto a flat-bed truck and transported to Moffett Field  Airport, about four miles from SSL.
Container on flatbed truck

At Moffett Field, IS-34 was loaded carefully onto a cargo plane – the Ukrainian-built Antonov 124.loaded onto cargo plane
The aircraft was also loaded with the accompanying ground support equipment that will be required at the launch site. Two SSL personnel went on the flight to ensure safety of the spacecraft by monitoring key environmental indicators on the container and to report any unusual events during flight.

The spacecraft arrived safely in French Guiana on Monday, 20 July.

The weeks between now and the 20 August launch date will be exciting as we make the final preparations toward launch. No matter how many launches I have been involved in, I am always inspired by the work and dedication that it takes to get the satellite from the design stage to the launch pad and into orbit.  Over the next few weeks, we look forward to sharing more details with you.

Follow us on Twitter for the latest on #Intelsat34.

 

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