Testing Underway on Intelsat 30 Antenna

In this blog post, Dan Heil, Senior Program Manager, Space Systems Acquisition, explains the start of the In-Orbit Test phase of the Intelsat 30 satellite that was launched into orbit recently.

The Intelsat 30 satellite has now been eased into a temporary orbital location at 132 degrees West Longitude with the last of four small trim maneuver burns.

With its arrival at 132 WL, IS-30 has entered the next phase of the mission – payload testing or “IOT,” an acronym for In-Orbit Test. This set of tests replicates testing performed during the building of the spacecraft and confirms the status and quality of each of the communications channels on the spacecraft. The Ku-band and C-band payload equipment, including more than 328 electronic units, has been turned on in preparation for the testing.

A team of controllers, ground station staff and satellite engineers has assembled in Intelsat’s Tysons Corner, Va. satellite control center and Mountainside, Md. earth station for testing 24 hours a day for 15 days. Tests include a “quick look” on a few channels prior to “antenna cut” testing.

We take a quick look at the channels to make sure we have all of the test equipment set up correctly to allow for good antenna cuts. Antenna cuts are measurements taken of the antenna patterns as we rotate the spacecraft that are analogous to cutting through a cake and looking at the cross section.

In this case, we are figuratively rotating the cake (satellite) along the cut line and measuring the height of the cake (the RF power) from a fixed point (the ground station). We want to see that the pattern (the outside shape of the cake) matches the designed/measured pattern from when the antenna was tested at SSL.

The team will be measuring the satellite’s transmit and receive antenna over several days, then the data will be analyzed.

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