EUTELSAT 172B satellite marks milestone as it reaches geostationary orbit | Satellite | News | Rapid TV News
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In just four months since its launch, breaking the record for the fastest satellite electric orbit raising, the EUTELSAT 172B spacecraft has now reached geostationary orbit.

eutelsat172b 11oct2017The Airbus-built full electric satellite was carried into space from an Ariane 5 rocket taking off from Kourou, in French Guiana, on 1 June. The Airbus spacecraft control centre in Toulouse took control for early operations, initialisation, deployment of the solar array and electric propulsion arms, and completed initial testing prior to starting the electric orbit raising phase on 8 June.

Eutelsat says that during this four-month phase, electric thrusters smoothly and efficiently propelled the satellite to the targeted orbit, consuming almost six times less propellant mass than for a satellite with chemical propulsion. The operator says that electric orbit raising success the subsequent breaking of the record was made possible by two Airbus innovations: a pair of deployable robotic arms which orientate the satellite’s electric propulsion thrusters, and control thrust direction and attitude during different phases of the mission; the WALIS (wide angle localisation integrated system) global network of ground stations which enabled engineers to control orbit raising operations until the satellite reached geostationary orbit.

“EUTELSAT 172B confirms the relevance of Eutelsat’s early adoption of electric propulsion technology to optimise capex,” remarked Eutelsat chief technical officer Yohann Leroy. “In combining electric propulsion, high throughput capacity, robotic arms and 3D printing techniques, our new satellite also reflects Europe’s capability to push the envelope of innovation in order to increase the competitiveness of our business. We look forward to bringing EUTELSAT 172B into service next month for our clients in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Following completion of the payload in-orbit tests and drift to its operational location led by the Eutelsat team, EUTELSAT 172B is scheduled to enter commercial service in November to provide, among other applications, broadcast services for the Asia Pacific region. Its life span is expected to exceed 15 years.