Intelsat spacecraft a goner after electrical failure
BY JUSTIN RAY
Posted: January 16, 2005
For the second time in less than two months, Intelsat's global fleet of communications spacecraft has suffered a satellite malfunction. This latest incident occurred Friday evening and knocked out the Lockheed Martin-built Intelsat 804 craft.
"In accordance with existing satellite anomaly contingency plans, Intelsat is in the process of making alternative capacity available to its IS-804 customers."
Carried into space atop a European Ariane 4 rocket in December 1997, IS-804 originally served the Indian Ocean region before being replaced by the newer IS-906 two years ago. It was re-located to provide telecommunications and media delivery services to customers in the South Pacific.
"A number of Intelsat-operated satellites in the region are being utilized to restore service to affected customers, and many end users of IS-804 capacity are already operating normally using replacement capacity. Intelsat has also begun working with other fleet operators where necessary to ensure the quickest possible restoration of service for customers," the statement said.
"The loss of a satellite is an extremely rare event for us, and our first priority must be restoration of service to our customers," said Conny Kullman, CEO of Intelsat, Ltd. "Intelsat remains firmly committed to the region that was covered by IS-804, and all necessary effort and assets will be allocated to ensure Intelsat satellite coverage throughout the Asia-Pacific region."
The craft was built using Lockheed Martin's Series 7000 model design. It was supposed to operate well over a decade.
"Intelsat and Lockheed Martin Corporation, the manufacturer of the satellite, are working together to identify the cause of the problem," the statement said.
The failure follows a serious glitch aboard the Intelsat Americas 7 (IA-7) satellite, which experienced an electrical distribution problem November 28.
"Intelsat currently believes that there is no connection between this event and the recent IA-7 satellite anomaly as the two satellites were manufactured by two different companies and their designs are different," the statement said.
Officials initially believed the Space Systems/Loral-built Intelsat Americas 7 spacecraft was lost forever, but engineers were able to regain control a few days later and recovered a portion of IA-7's communications capacity. That particular satellite was launched in 1999 as Telstar 7 and operated for several years by Loral Skynet before being purchased by Intelsat in early 2004 and renamed.
Intelsat said it expects to record a non-cash impairment charge of approximately $73 million to write off the value of IS-804. The satellite was not insured, Intelsat said, because it insures only those satellites with a net book value greater than $150 million.
The loss of IS-804 gives Zeus Holdings, a group working to buy Intelsat, the right to abort the acquisition, Intelsat said. Zeus Holdings has advised Intelsat that it is evaluating the impact of the IS-804 failure.