Feb 292020

Intelsat 907 / 901 update at 27.5 West

For more information on the service provided by I907 at 27.t west, please see here :

We know that the Intelsat 907 satellite used at 27.5 west is low on fuel, and needs replacing.

We know that there is a plan to replace this I907 satellite, as posted here.

Well, this week, MEV1 successfully docked with the Intelsat 901 satellite. The docking was autonomous. The MEV-1 achieved this by driving a probe into the IS-901’s engine nozzle and then opening some “fingers” to lock the two spacecraft together. This will allow Intelsat-901 to extend its 19-year mission of relaying TV and other services by another five years.

MEV1 took this image of I901 prior to docking

MEV1 took this image of I901 prior to docking

The Mission Extension Vehicle-1 that grabbed hold of Intelsat-901, is said to be the first time two commercial satellites had come together in this way at an altitude of just over 36,000km. The docking occurred on Tuesday at 02:15 EDT (07:15 GMT), approximately 300km above the geosynchronous arc from where most telecoms satellites relay their data.

MEV-1 will now push IS-901 to an equatorial position at 27.5 degrees West so it can resume telecoms duties in late March or early April.

The satellite industry has been talking for some time about a capability to carry out in-orbit servicing and re-fuelling of ageing spacecraft, and even to bring defunct assets out of the sky altogether. But the Northrop Grumman/Intelsat arrangement is really the first commercial initiative to bear fruit.

Once at 27.5W, I901 will take over I907s duties.

As for BBC Satback service, used by many expats in the south of Spain and Portugal for reception of UK TV, then until I901 is operational, no-one will know what reception in those areas will be like. The thinking is that the I901 beams are similar to I907 beams. But we do know that I901 has steerable beams, which may make reception of the Satback service harder in the Portugal and southern area of Spain


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