Friday, December 29, 2017

Russia Restores Contact with AngoSat-1 Satellite

Zenit rocket launches with AngoSat-1 satellite. Credit: Roscosmos

Russia has apparently restored contact with the Angola’s first satellite, AngoSat-1, that was launched by a Zenit rocket on Tuesday, December 26, 2017. According to RKK Energia, which manufactured the satellite and controls its operations in space, its experts have received on Thursday telemetry data indicating that the spacecraft’s systems are operating normally.

"Experts from the Energia Corporation have received telemetry data from the AngoSat satellite launched by the Zenit-3SLBF space rocket from the Baikonur spaceport on December 26. The satellite has provided telemetry data showing that all its systems settings are in order," RKK Energia said in a statement.

Zenit with AngoSat-1 lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 19:00 GMT (2:00 p.m. EST) on Tuesday. The flight lasted some nine hours until the spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle’s Fregat-SB upper stage at 3:54 UTC on Wednesday (10:54 p.m. EST on Tuesday).

Although AngoSat-1 was successfully injected into targeted geostationary orbit, its power-generating solar arrays began to unfold and initial contact was established with ground control, the satellite went silent just few minutes later. Within hours after the malfunction occurred, RKK Energia acknowledged the problem in a statement, informing that the company’s experts are working around the clock to resolve this issue.

The exact cause of the malfunction is still unknown, however TASS reports it could be due to issues with the satellite’s battery charge.

Similar problem to that with AngoSat-1 occurred after the launch of Foton-M No.4 satellite in July 2014 when it ceased responding to commands issued to it from the ground.

AngoSat-1 is based on RKK Energia’s Universal Space Platform (USP), weighs around 1.55 metric tons, and features two deployable solar arrays. It is equipped with 16 C-band and 6 Ku-band transponders; its designed lifetime is 15 years. The satellite was built to provide television broadcasting and telecommunications services in the Ku-band within the territory of the Republic of Angola as well as C-band coverage over the entire African continent and Europe.

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