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Intelsat-31 gets away despite glitch

Intelsat-31 was safely into its geostationary transfer orbit last night after its launch on June 9th despite a problem with one of its upper stages.

It is not yet clear precisely what the problem was aboard its Proton launch rocket, but apparently one of the upper stages underperformed. The Russian technicians compensated for this problem by having a longer rocket burn in order to lift the satellite into its target orbit.

The complete process, from launch to the release of the satellite, took 15 hours, 31 minutes.

Inteldat-31 will now undergo some in-orbit tests prior to being co-located with Intelsat-30 at 95 degrees West, the ‘hot spot’ for DirecTV’s Latin American DTH transmissions. Intelsat-31 also carries C-band transponders which Intelsat will commercialise.

Intelsat had said prior to the satellite’s launch that I-31 could have an in-orbit life of 20 years or more. It is not yet known whether this expectation will be compromised by the rocket’s upper stage problem, but post-launch comments suggest there should be no impact on the satellite’s life.

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