Astra 5A lost

Astra 5A has been declared a total loss. The satellite was originally known as NSAB/Sirius 2, operated by SES Sirius, a subsidiary that’s 90% owned by SES Astra.

Astra 5A was operating from 31.5 deg East, mostly beaming channels into German cable head-ends. Customers were switched to another Astra position at 23.5 deg East.

However, the loss curtails for the moment Astra’s plans for 31.5 deg East, which the craft was quietly developing and targeting Central, Eastern Europe and the Middle East as far as Turkey. SES says the “economic impact” of the loss will not be material.

Astra has not had the best of luck with the position. The position was opened and secured in July 2006 with another end-of-life craft, the Australian Optus A3 craft (operating at a highly inclined 9 degree position). This was replaced by another somewhat tired craft, Astra 1D, also in inclined orbit. Astra 5A was the first ‘nominal’ craft to correctly occupy the slot.

Astra 5A first experienced problems back on October 22 last year, although was seemingly fully recovered by Nov 5 when SES said it was again working nominally. SES at the time said they could not rule out “human error” as far as the basic problem was concerned.

Astra 5A, a Spacebus 3000B2 model, was built by the then Aerospatiale company, now part of Thales Alenia Space, and launched on Nov 12 1997. It should have given around 3-5 years more service. It is not known what the nominal value the craft had, or whether it was insured.