Intelsat I-29e ‘killed’ by solar weather

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The failure investigation board that’s looked into the problems which occurred on Intelsat’s I-29e satellite – which was lost in April and was valued at $381.6 million – has concluded that an “electrostatic discharge aggravated by a harness flaw on the spacecraft, or a micro meteor strike”.

Intelsat says: “The failure review board concluded that the anomaly was either caused by a harness flaw in conjunction with an electrostatic discharge event related to solar weather activity, or the impact of a micro meteoroid.”

The failure committee included Boeing staff who built the satellite.

Intelsat 29e was launched January 27th 2016, aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana for a planned 15-year mission. Based on the Boeing 702MP satellite design, Intelsat 29e was positioned in geostationary orbit at 50 degrees West.

Intelsat said there is a very low risk of any similar event affecting the Boeing 702MP craft in its fleet.

Richard Esposito, a Boeing spokesperson, said the company is “incorporating information gained from the investigation” into the Intelsat 29e failure to other spacecraft under construction at the Boeing satellite production line in El Segundo, California, “as a normal course of business.”

Intelsat is looking actively at how best to replace I-29e, including cooperation with other operators to bring near-term capacity into the fleet.


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