14 October 2015

Today, the Benavídez Ground Station successfully conducted the last of the five maneuvers jointly called “Apogee Maneuver Firing” (AMF) which allowed the second Argentine telecommunication satellite to reach the geostationary orbit. This orbit, located on the Equator at 35,736 km above sea level, is almost circular. From now on, Benavídez Ground Station belonging to ARSAT S.A. is the only controlling teleport of the ARSAT-2.

The last apogee maneuver that allowed the ARSAT-2 to reach the geostationary orbit was conducted in the ARSAT’s ground station in Benavídez. At the beginning, the ARSAT-2 moved in an orbit at 250 km at its perigee (the orbit point in which it is nearest the earth) and almost 36,000 km at its apogee (the point in which it is at the greatest distance from the earth), now, it moves in an orbit at 35,736 km above sea level in all its points.

The apogee maneuvers that were carried out on October 2, 4 , 7, 8 and 10 in the Benavídez Ground Station were five altogether. With the last maneuver, the satellite left the orbit reached yesterday, which was 32,290 km at its perigee with an inclination of 0.25°. From then on, it is moving around the earth in the geostationary orbit.

Preliminary procedures were followed before carrying out every maneuver, even pointing the satellite in the direction in which it would be accelerated (otherwise, it was always facing the sun). The crucial moment during the maneuvers was when the satellite’s main engine was started at the point in which it was at the highest distance from its orbit, whereupon the satellite was transported to higher circular orbits. The ARSAT-2’s main engine, known as LAE that stands for Liquid Apogee Engine, is a 400 Newton engine.

The first three maneuvers took longer than the last two (AMF-4 and AMF-5), which were oriented to the precise and final position to reach the geostationary orbit. During the five maneuvers, the satellite’s propulsion and self-control subsystems worked properly.

The group of technicians of ARSAT S.A. in charge of sending the second Argentine telecommunication satellite into orbit included about 20 persons who had conducted the same successful operation with the ARSAT-1. On this second occasion, prior training also involved several launching and service simulations. To send the satellite into orbit the group divided into subgroups, which allowed them to work under a 7 x 24 system —that is, to control the satellite 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The operations were carried out from Benavídez’s ground station, which is the only control center for telecommunication satellites’ missions in Latin America.

Sending a geostationary satellite into orbit implies making the satellite reach an orbital position around the earth almost 36,000 km above sea level on the Equator. Any object located in this orbit may keep on moving around our planet without changing its relative position with respect to any place on it, which makes it ideal for placing telecommunication satellites since there is no need to modify the orientation of the receiver antennas.

Federal Authority on Information and Communications Technology