Intelsat has announced that it has a problem with its latest satellite. Intelsat-19, only launched on May 31st, has – as yet – failed to deploy one its all-important pair of solar panels. Intelsat’s engineers reported the glitch late on June 1st.
The word used by Intelsat is that there had been a “delay” in deploying the panel. “Intelsat and Space Systems/Loral [SS/L, the manufacturer of the satellite), are investigating the cause and are pursuing corrective actions. The spacecraft is secure at this time in geostationary transfer orbit,” their statement said.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that SS/L satellites have suffered similar problems. However, there are remedies. The technicians can gently put the satellite through a form of ‘shaking’ which often is sufficient to deploy the array.
Meanwhile, the craft (Intelsat-8) that is still doing the job that Intelsat-19 was intending to replace, has plenty of fuel on board (at 166 degrees East) and can continue operating until late 2019.
Should the problem not be solved, Intelsat can then make an insurance claim on the damaged craft, and still have plenty of time to build or re-locate a satellite to the 166 degrees East spot. An insurance claim, however, is likely to be significant. As a guide, a similar problem occurred on another SS/L-built craft for Canada’s Telesat (the satellite was its Estrela do Sul-2 craft) and resulted in $132.7 million being paid as compensation.