19 November 2014

On November 2, after satisfactorily getting through each of the stages planned for the first post-launching orbits, the ARSAT-1 satellite was successfully located in the geostationary position 81° West, where the proper functioning of the communication payload will be checked.

The Benavídez Ground Station, belonging to ARSAT S.A., made contact with the ARSAT-1 on October 16, 2014, a few minutes after it was launched and become separated; on October 18, a series of maneuvers were carried out to turn on the satellite’s main engine, which would transport the satellite from the elliptical transfer orbit where it was left by the launcher to the geostationary orbit where the telecommunication satellites should be located, at 35,786 km from the earth.

As it was planned, on October 26 the ground station successfully conducted the last of the five maneuvers jointly called “Apogee Maneuver Firing” (AMF) which allowed the first Argentine telecommunication satellite to reach the geostationary orbit. At the beginning, the ARSAT-1 moved in an elliptical 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), with an inclination of 5.23º from the Equator; now it moves in an almost circular orbit located on the Equatorial plane at about 35,786 km above sea level in all its points. On October 26, Benavídez was the only station controlling the satellite, since being in geostationary orbit, it could be seen permanently from any point on earth, so that the earth segment of the ARSAT-1 satellite system no longer needed the follow-up information provided by antennas located in other places.

On October 27, the necessary commands to insulate the satellite’s main engine were activated from the ground station. On the following day, the second stage of the process of extending the solar panels, which had been partially opened on October 16 a few minutes after the launching, took place. Their proper functioning was verified and they reached the expected power level. Moreover, the complete extension of the communication antenna as well as the redirection of the satellite were ordered, so the correct “earth side” of the satellite faced our planet, pointing the antenna in the proper direction to provide communication services. After this operation, the successful stabilization of the satellite on its three axles, in compliance with every requirement, was checked. Thus, the most critical stage of placing the satellite into its orbit was got through.

At present, the ARSAT-1 is on geostationary position 81° West, where it will remain for some time to undergo the so-called In Orbit Test, that will verify the proper functioning of every communication channel on board and will measure the antenna performance. At the same time, several maintenance tasks will be carried out in the on-board systems.