IS-34 Arrives at Its Destination, Begins Service

By Joe Chan, Director, Flight Dynamics

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

News about our recently launched satellite, Intelsat 34, may have seemed quiet over the past few weeks. But here in the Flight Dynamics group at our East Coast Operations Center, things have been anything but quiet. In fact, once the satellite completed in-orbit testing and all systems were “go,” that is when my team began our part of the satellite’s mission.

We are in charge of maneuvering the satellite into its exact orbital location at 304.5° East, where it will reside throughout its working life inside a virtual “box” of +/- 0.05°. To do this, we had to complete two maneuvers, about 12 hours apart.

First, on 16 September, we performed a maneuver to set the satellite on its path by sending signals to IS-34 to fire the proper thrusters . Then, on 17 September, we completed a second maneuver.

From there, we guided the satellite about 0.33 degrees per day (or 10 kilometers an hour) across the longitudinal arc. IS-34 arrived at 304.5°E, just in time to start transmitting new customer service as well as transitioning traffic from Intelsat 805 (the satellite it is replacing).

I am happy to report, on behalf of the entire mission team, that IS-34 is fully operational, delivering signals for Intelsat customers in Latin America and across the Atlantic.

For a short time, while we move traffic from the old satellite to the new, we’ll be operating both IS-34 and IS-805 in the same +/- 0.05° control box.

It’s been an exciting journey for Intelsat 34, from the time in 2013 when we contracted SSL to build it…to months of design and preparation before manufacturing…to many months in the factory…to French Guiana for a picture perfect launch…and a textbook example of orbit raising performed by the IS-34 mission team these past several weeks.

Cheers to IS-34 providing many years of service to our customers!

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