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Alcatel Satellite Reaches Orbit (Feb. 21)

PARIS --- Built by Alcatel Space for the American operator SES AMERICOM and launched by ILS on February 3 from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, the AMC-12 communications satellite has successfully completed all orbital positioning operations.

Its apogee boost motor was fired four times, all without a hitch, enabling very precise orbital injection. The two six-panel solar arrays were also deployed smoothly, as were the three large antenna reflectors. The satellite is now positioned in its normal mode, with antennas pointing towards the Earth, ready to transmit communications signals.

AMC-12 is based on the new-generation Spacebus 4000 platform by Alcatel Space, which is delivering the high level of performance expected at this operation stage. For the first time, this satellite is fitted with the “Avionique 4000” avionics system developed by Alcatel Space to keep pace with increasingly heavy satellites.

This avionics systems, based on a 100-volt power bus to ensure high-power compatibility, has now been qualified in orbit. Flexible, modular and totally integrated with the main onboard computer, this is the first spaceborne avionics for geostationary orbit featuring an integrated star tracker.

The orbital positioning phase also enabled the in-flight qualification of the Unified Propulsion System (UPS) made by Alcatel Space. The UPS offered trouble-free operation during all firings of the apogee boost motor (four in all, including one lasting two hours), and the propulsion system’s control nozzles provided perfect control of the satellite’s attitude.

Equally important was the successful deployment of the Solarbus 100-volt solar array, comprising six panels per wing (including two lateral panels), giving the Spacebus platform power capacity of 13 kW in orbit. In this configuration, Solarbus is the largest solar generator ever launched by Alcatel Space for a communications satellite. The successful in-orbit deployment of the two large antenna reflectors on each side is also a world first, giving the Spacebus 4000 family a critical advantage in its ability to meet the requirements of a large variety of complex missions.

"AMC-12, the first Spacebus 4000 to be launched, has thus far performed and tested flawlessly; the AMERICOM in-orbit-testing team is looking forward to putting this very large and very flexible C-band payload through its paces over the next several weeks, and turning capacity over to both ASTRA and Star One in April," said Dany Harel, SES AMERICOM Vice President of Space Systems and Operations.

After its successful orbital positioning, the AMC-12 satellite now starts configuration and payload tests, leading to a planned service entry in April.

AMC-12 Satellite Successfully Reaches Orbit; is First Satellite Based on New-Generation Spacebus 4000 Platform