PARIS — European launch consortium Arianespace has rescheduled liftoff of the MSG-3 meteorological spacecraft to July 5 from June 19 to give satellite fleet operator Hughes Network Systems time to conduct additional checks of its EchoStar 17 telecommunication satellite, which is to be launched with MSG-3 on an Ariane 5 ECA rocket.
Built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., the Ka-band EchoStar 17 is based on the same Loral-built LS-1300 spacecraft bus that failed to deploy one of two solar array panels on the Intelsat-19 satellite launched May 31 atop a Sea Launch rocket from an ocean-based platform on the equator.
In addition to postponing the MSG-3 mission, the solar-array mishap could affect launches of other spacecraft using the LS-1300 platform. However, Reston, Va.-based International Launch Services (ILS) said June 12 that it will go ahead with liftoiff of the 1300-based SES-5 telecommunications satellite atop a Proton-M/Breeze-M rocket, now slated for June 20 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
New York-based Loral Space & Communications, parent company of Space Systems/Loral, said June 4 it is evaluating the delayed south solar array deployment on Intelsat-19, which deployed its north solar array according to plan. The satellite is in a secure configuration in geostationary transfer orbit while Space Systems/Loral and Intelsat pursue corrective actions. The satellite manufacturer is also evaluating the impact, if any, on other satellites under construction.
“We are analyzing all of the data available to date and putting together a formal review board,” says Space Systems/Loral spokeswoman Wendy Lewis. “It is very important to us to discover the root cause of the anomaly.”
Commercial launch services provider Sea Launch of Bern, Switzerland, said June 8 it had released preliminary “quick look” payload unit telemetry data to Intelsat and Space Systems/Loral covering the full mission profile from liftoff at 10:23 p.m. PDT May 31 through spacecraft separation. Sea Launch inserted and separated the spacecraft into its predefined orbit, but it was later reported that Intelsat-19 failed to deploy one of its two solar arrays.
Sea Launch uses a payload unit built byCommercial Space Co., hardware that Sea Launch says is extensively instrumented, including accelerometers, pressure sensors and microphones.
“The preliminary data review indicates that all systems performed nominally throughout the launch profile, including fairing and spacecraft separation,” said Kirk Pysher, CEO of Energia Logistics Ltd., in a June 8 Sea Launch statement, adding that Sea Launch is continuing to investigate the cause of the mishap. “Boeing engineers did note an unexpected, isolated event around 72 seconds after launch, which registered on microphones and pressure sensors. We have only seen this one other time out of the 31 flights, and while it is premature to speculate on its origin until further analysis is complete, it bears a striking resemblance to a prior Space Systems/Loral mission.”
According to Sea Launch, the Telstar 14/Estrela do Sul 1 communications satellite, which it launched on Jan. 10, 2004, also experienced a failed deployment of one solar array panel. Sea Launch has since conducted seven successful flights of Space Systems/Loral’s LS-1300 spacecraft.
More recently, the Telstar 14R/Estrela do Sul 2 communications satellite, based on the LS-1300 and launched in May 2011 on an ILS Proton-M/Breeze M rocket, also failed to fully deploy its north solar array panel, diminishing the amount of power available for the satellite’s transponders and reducing its service-life expectancy to 12 years from 15, according to Ottawa-based Telesat. As a result, in December 2011 Telesat received $135 million in insurance proceeds for the anomaly.