Sunday, April 26, 2015

Has Egypt Lost Contact with Its Satellite?

EgyptSat 2 during prelaunch processing. Credit: RKK Energia

Russian newspaper Izvestia reported Thursday that Egypt has lost communication with its remote sensing Earth observation satellite EgyptSat 2, less than a year since it was launched in April 2014. Sources from RSC Energia; a Russian manufacturer of spacecraft and space station components that built the satellite told the Russian newspapers that “the satellite is not responding to the instructions and does not properly orbit Earth.” But the head of Egypt's National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (NARSS) claims the satellite is under the full control of the Egyptian experts.

A report by the Interfax news agency said that both flight control computers onboard the spacecraft failed within 15 seconds of each other on Apr. 12, 2015. According to the Izvestiya daily, the satellite failed on Apr. 14.

The main reason for the loss of connection with the Egyptian satellite may be due to “a human factor,” Igor Marinin, chief-editor of Novosti Kosmonavtica magazine was quoted by Izvestia.

“Such cases occur when the satellite is given the wrong orders. It might lead to the loss of its engine,” said Marinin.

On Apr. 16, 2014, the satellite was launched on board a Soyuz-U rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome which was a milestone toward establishing the Egyptian Space Agency.

EgyptSat 2, a high-resolution surveillance satellite was originally planned to launch Oct. 1, 2013, but the launch was put on hold in 2011 following all contact being lost with EgyptSat 1 due to a failure of its communication system four years after it was launched in 2007.

In January 2015, the control over the satellite was handed over to the Egyptian specialists.

The satellite takes pictures of the planet in the visible and infrared spectrum in panchromatic and multispectral modes.

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