Telesat of Canada launched its Telstar 14R/Estrela do Sol 2
satellite on May 21st. While the launch appeared successful one of
the satellite’s solar panels failed to open. The craft, built by Space Systems/Loral
has been given a very limited life in orbit, and can only handle about half of
its planned channels. The satellite was
designed to serve both Canada and Latin American viewers.
An independent board of enquiry has established that a
simple nylon clip holding the satellite’s external cabling in place became
loose during launch and swung widely and snagged on a piece of metal used to
hold the folded solar array in place. The stress on the cable resulted in the
cabling snapping and breaking off a chunk of solar panel rendering the panel
Telesat will reportedly make an insurance claim of some
$200m. Amendments have been made in Loral’s other satellite coming off the
production line including SES’ QuetzSat-1 and ViaSat-1.
Loral stressed that the satellite was designed with the same
clips as used in 14 previous successful launches.