Astra switches off 5A

Chris Forrester

SES says it has successfully de-orbited its troublesome Astra 5A craft (aka Sirius 2). The satellite suffered a technical incident back in January, leaving the craft uncontrollable and potentially hazardous to other nearby satellites.

Since then engineers from the Swedish Space Corporation and its Sirius (satellite) Control Centre, plus SES and technicians from the satellite’s builders at Thales Alenia have succeeded in stabilising the craft. This was essential in order to charge up the satellite’s depleted batteries with solar power.

The improved energy supply was then used to nominally operate the positioning systems on board the satellite and perform its move out of the geostationary orbit to a safe so-called ‘graveyard’ orbit somewhat higher than the 36,000 kilometres Clarke Belt.

Meanwhile, SES is moving Astra 2C to the 31.5 deg East slot, to continue 5A’s mission.