The EUTELSAT 172B spacecraft, built by Airbus for Eutelsat (Paris:ETL), one of the world´s satellite operators, has now reached geostationary orbit, breaking the record for the fastest satellite electric orbit raising (EOR), the company said.
EUTELSAT 172B was launched by Ariane 5 from Kourou, in French Guiana, on 1 June. The Airbus spacecraft control centre in Toulouse took control for early operations, initialisation, deployment of the solar array and electric propulsion arms, and completed initial testing prior to starting the Electric Orbit Raising phase on 8 June. During this four-month phase, electric thrusters smoothly and efficiently propelled the satellite to the targeted orbit, consuming almost six times less propellant mass than for a satellite with chemical propulsion.
Following completion of the payload in-orbit tests and drift to its operational location led by the Eutelsat team, EUTELSAT 172B is scheduled to enter commercial service in November to provide enhanced telecommunications, in-flight broadband and broadcast services for the Asia-Pacific region. Its life span is expected to exceed 15 years thanks to electric propulsion for in-orbit raising and station-keeping.
EUTELSAT 172B combines 13 kW of payload power with a launch mass of only 3,550 kg, thanks to the latest EOR version of Airbus´ highly reliable Eurostar E3000 platform.
EOR success and record was made possible by two Airbus innovations:
A pair of deployable robotic arms which orientate the satellite´s electric propulsion thrusters, and control thrust direction and attitude during different phases of the mission.
The WALIS (Wide Angle Localisation Integrated System) network of ground stations around the world, developed by Airbus, which has enabled engineers to control orbit raising operations until the satellite reached geostationary orbit.
The development of Airbus´ Eurostar all-electric satellites has been supported by ESA and space agencies of European countries, in particular in France by the CNES in the framework of the PIA programme (Plan d´Investissements d´Avenir) and in the UK by the UK Space Agency.
Founded in 1977, Eutelsat Communications is one of the world´s satellite operators. With a global fleet of satellites and associated ground infrastructure, Eutelsat enables clients across Video, Data, Government, Fixed and Mobile Broadband markets to communicate effectively to their customers, irrespective of their location. For more about Eutelsat go to www.eutelsat.com