Supriya Ghosh

Ekspress AM4

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COSPAR ID  2011-045A
Manufacturer  Eurostar-3000
Launch date  17 August 2011
Mission type  Communications satellite
SATCAT no.  37798
Power  14 kilowatts
Bus  Astrium
Decay date  25 March 2012
Ekspress AM4 wwwrussianspacewebcomimagesspacecraftapplicat
Mission duration  15 years planned Launch failure
Launch mass  5,775 kilograms (12,732 lb)
Operator  Russian Satellite Communications Company
Similar  Ekspress, Kosmos 2470, Progress M‑12M, Ekspress AM5, Ekspress AM6

Ekspress AM4 was a communications satellite placed into the wrong orbit from a faulty Briz-M rocket stage. This satellite was to be part of the Ekspress series of geostationary communications satellites owned by Russian State Company for Satellite Communications. The satellite was de-orbited on 28 March 2012 into the Pacific Ocean, in spite of efforts of it being used for Antarctic broadband purposes.

Contents

Although there have been several satellites de-orbited over the years, Ekspress AM4 would have been able to provide broadband services to the Antarctic for the first time.

Launch

The Ekspress AM4 satellite was launched on 18 August 2011 on a Russian Proton rocket from Kazakhstan, which included a Briz-M stage. It was just after launch that the Briz-M stage did not separate from the Ekspress satellite, causing it to fall into the wrong orbit.

Spacecraft

The total mass of the Ekspress AM4 satellite was 5,800 kg, and the spacecraft had 64 transponders. The onboard antennas were capable of broadcasting in the C, Ku, L, and Ka bands. The satellite's orbit was measured at 1,007 by 20,317 km altitude, with an inclination orbit of 51.3 degrees. Though the satellite was placed in the wrong orbit, there was no damage to the satellite, meaning that it became the subject of numerous reuse proposals.

Reuse proposals

One of the most notable reuse proposals came from a company called Polar Broadband Systems, which was established in December 2011. Its objectives were to submit proposals for the reuse of semi-retired and retired satellites for use with communications over the Antarctic. The company notes that it would not have been feasible to build a dedicated satellite for the region as the population would not justify the expense, however Ekspress AM4 would suffice as it could have been maneuvered into the required orbit. There was enough fuel on board for it to be operational for ten years, with giving the Antarctic region 16 hours of broadband access a day.

Deorbit

Dennis Pivnyuk who is the chief financial officer of the Russian Satellite Communications Co, informed on 15 March 2012 that the satellite would be decommissioned and deorbited. He stated that the descent phase would start on 20 March, with the spacecraft reentering over the Pacific Ocean around 26 March. The spacecraft was destroyed during reentry on 28 March.

References

Ekspress AM4 Wikipedia


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