ESA hopes to save stranded Artemis satellite
Posted: July 13, 2001

Artist's impression of Europe's Artemis satellite in orbit. Photo: ESA
Ground controllers are evaluating possibilities to recover the mission of the Artemis telecommunications satellite, one of two spacecraft launched by a European Ariane 5 vehicle on Thursday, 12 July 2001 at 18:58 local time in Kourou, French Guiana , 23:58 (CEST), but that was left stranded in a lower than expected orbit due to a malfunction in the upper stage of the Ariane 5 launcher.

Analysis of the situation is continuing as the spacecraft has been put into a safe sun-pointing condition by ground controllers. The solar panels were partially deployed during the night and are powering the satellite correctly, as planned for the nominal mission. The satellite is fully under control and is being monitored via different ground stations all over the world. Artemis can remain in this safe condition for as long as it is needed to allow ground controllers to evaluate the best way to rescue the mission.

"Our ground controllers were ready for such an eventuality," said Gotthard Oppenhaeuser, ESA Artemis Project Manager, speaking from the launch site in Kourou. "The team is well practised in reacting to all sorts of potential problems and we are confident that a good technical solution to the problem will be eventually found.

"Thanks to the availability of the ion propulsion system for position-keeping manoeuvres, most of the chemical fuel on board the satellite can be used to raise its orbit to the right altitude. Experts are working out a strategy to make the best use of the available fuel".

The multi-purpose Artemis satellite - the precursor to new and advanced satellite communication services - is the most advanced telecommunications satellite yet developed by ESA.

A press conference is scheduled to be held in Kourou on Friday, 13 July at 10:00 Kourou time, 15:00 CEST.