Advanced Television

Astranis’s space tug helps out Spacecom

February 29, 2024

A rescue satellite is being moved from coverage of Alaska to serve a Middle East operator. The Astranis craft had plans to beam broadband to Alaska but cut short by a solar array issue and is now on is on its way to a geostationary position over Asia for a very different mission.

Astranis will relocate their Arcturus satellite and then temporarily bring-into-use some spectrum for Israeli satellite operator Spacecom which intends to use it for a future satellite, although the details about this satellite are unknown.

Arcturus said that over the past nine months, its first satellite has been “hard at work” completing end-to-end comms demos (commercial and government), demonstrating full payload functionality and testing ground stations. It has been on the move since the beginning of February.

“And now, it’s doing something new: using its on-board propulsion to traverse the GEO arc and perform new missions all around the world,” said the satellite’s owners. “As some satellite watchers have already noticed, Arcturus is speeding west at a rate of approximately 3 degrees per day and is currently somewhere over Indonesian Borneo. It is moving towards a new orbital position, and will settle into its new (temporary) home in mid-March.”

The company revealed: “Our first global customer for Arcturus is Spacecom, a well-known satellite operator based in Israel that provides satellite TV and broadband connectivity in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Spacecom has contracted the satellite for a multimonth mission to secure valuable spectrum rights” — this is known in the industry as a ‘bring into use’ mission. Spacecom has plans to place a larger GEO satellite at one of their orbital slots at a future date, and needed our help to make sure the slot was secured.

“This is a great demonstration of the relocation abilities of our satellites. Astranis satellites are designed to be highly maneuverable, and fueled for dozens of relocation maneuvers over their lifetime. Having satellites that can relocate as needed to fulfill different missions is a big part of what makes the Astranis model unique. And I couldn’t be more happy with how rapidly our team was able to prove out this additional [mission] for the satellite. This mission is an exciting one, but far from the only mission type available to the satellite — and far from the final orbital location for the satellite. Arcturus’s payload continues to perform perfectly, and the spacecraft is fueled for many years on orbit,” continued Astranis.

“Our customers continue to be very interested in what Arcturus has to offer, so we expect Arcturus to be booked up and fully utilised, not just for 2024 but for the rest of its lifetime on orbit. Arcturus is the only small, manoeuvrable satellite in the geostationary arc with a high-performance comms payload on board,” added the company.

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