Ground controllers lost contact with a communications satellite of India, launched last week. Based on the news reports, Indian engineers believed that the problem might lie on the power system of the spacecraft.
Following the launch last Thursday, the GSAT 6A communications satellite has successfully completed orbital adjustment maneuvers. However, the engineers at the control center in India have lost a full contact with the spacecraft a day after the launch.
Due to a major orbit-raising burn by the GSAT 6A engine, the satellite ran into trouble, confirmed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). They said in a statement that efforts are started in order to bring back the connection with the spacecraft.
They launched GSLV Mk.2 rocket to place the satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit, which is as near as 92 miles from the Earth. After the launch on Thursday, the GSAT 6A has already extended all its solar panels. And it has begun generating electricity of its own.
When it comes to its final operating orbit, it’s going to be at an altitude of 22, 300 miles over the equator. This is where astrodynamics allows the spacecraft to move in the orbit at a speed similar to the Earth’s rotation. The geosynchronous orbits are of great help for data relay as well as television satellites.
The flight pan of GSAT 6A resulted in three burns on its board engine in order to circularize the orbit, shift the spacecraft orbital track, and position it properly over the equator. The officials from ISRO said that the two burns went as planned. However, controllers lost stable communications after the second maneuver.
K. Sivan, the chairman of ISRO, said that the GSAT 6A should have reset or entered a safe mode when a problem occurred in an interview with the Time of India newspaper. The controllers would have been able to find communications with the spacecraft if the mode was set in this mode.
Like the first two burns, the third one was also planned. This is to finish circularizing the orbit of the satellite. The moment it arrives at the final orbit, astronauts would park it along the equator and complete the launch checkouts before the operational service.
More than $41 million, it was designed to provide communication services for all remote users such as the Indian military and some government agencies. The GSAT 6, its sister satellite, launched in 2015.