One of the oldest operational communications satellites operated by Echostar, Echostar-3, suffered few problems with communication problems during orbital maneuver last week.
It is hard to believe, but Echostar remains on orbit since October 5, 1997 when it was launched on the top of the Atlas-2AS rocket from LC-36B launch site at Cape Canaveral. Satellite was originally placed on 61.5°W GEO orbital slot and provided with its 32 Ku-band transponders various communications services. With operational life planned for 15 years it was utilized by Echostar ever since without any serious problems.
Last week satellite was performing orbital maneuver to reach new orbital location from inclined orbit where it has been operating for more than three years. During this maneuver satellite rapidly lost communications with ground control station. According to Derek de Bastos, chief technology officer for EchoStar Satellite Services L.L.C.:
“EchoStar has received FCC authority for its current flight configuration and we are working in cooperation with the satellite manufacturer to re-establish a reliable link in order to recover and retire the spacecraft… In spite of the anomaly, we believe that the current EchoStar III orbit does not present a significant risk to the operating satellites in the geostationary arc.”
Company will try to resume communications with satellite, but it is possible that due the years of service subsystems of the satellite are already have degraded to a degree which could make continuing service impossible. Until now Echostar as not announced if communication with satellite was resumed or not.
Echostar-3 was manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Satellite was based on A2100AX bus with weight at 3674 kg. It was equipped with two main dish antennas and two deployable solar arrays. It was equipped with Leros-1C apogee kick motor as main propulsion. Satellite is equipped with 3 axis stabilization system.