Alphasat deploys massive L-band reflector in orbit

by Staff Reporter | August 6th, 2013

Alphasat, reportedly one of the most technically advanced telecommunications satellites ever constructed for civilian applications, has successfully reached its temporary post in geostationary orbit. Alphasat was launched on an Ariane 5 ECA launcher from French Guiana on 25th July.

In addition to deploying the massive arrays, which span almost 40 metres, the spacecraft has also deployed its L-band reflector. In an operation lasting more than 24 hours, the reflector was released from the satellite and unfurled slowly to its final diameter of 11 metres.

All of these critical operations were successfully conducted by a team from Astrium and Thales Alenia Space, managed by Inmarsat and supported by Alphasat partner, the European Space Agency (ESA), and CNES, in a cooperative effort unprecedented in the European space industry.

The satellite will remain in its current orbit for several weeks while Inmarsat, together with ESA, continue in-orbit testing. This will include testing of all AlphaBus platform subsystems and the commissioning of its innovative digital processing L-band payload, in addition to the spacecraft’s four Technology Demonstration (hosted) Payloads (TDP).

“We are extremely pleased with the performance of Alphasat so far. It has performed flawlessly and we have retired a significant amount of the mission risk after the successful mechanical deployments and Earth pointing acquisition. Once we finish testing the payload, Alphasat will be ready for operations. It has been a well-executed, collaborative team effort by all involved,” says Ruy Pinto, Inmarsat’s Chief Technology Officer.

The first TDP to be operated in orbit is the TDP 6 Star Tracker from Jeno-Optronik GmBh, one of the leading instruments and subsystem suppliers in the international space market, which was switched on soon after launch. The demonstration payload is operating nominally in star tracking mode and the first data from the Star Tracker has been downloaded and is currently being evaluated.

Alphasat joins Inmarsat’s I-4 satellite fleet, which has been powering global broadband connectivity for government and commercial customers in the L-band since 2009. The new satellite will provide additional mobile satellite communications capacity over Europe, the Middle East and Africa.


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