The CHINASAT 9A Direct-To-Home (DTH) broadcast satellite reportedly managed to recover itself into the geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) belt by 5 July. It was stranded in a sub-optimal transfer orbit by an under-performing third-stage of a Long March 3B-G2 rocket on 18 June. CHINASAT 9A is in a 35799 x 35774 km GEO with zero inclination and has been placed over 101.4 degrees East. The spacecraft apparently used its own on-board thrusters – and hence station-keeping fuel – to do this, severely reducing the spacecraft’s lifespan. Insurers are expecting a claim for 67% loss of life (10 years out of the 15-year design life), equating to US$144 million.

Flag of the People’s Republic of China.

 

Comment by David Todd: If the loss of lifespan is only 67% then this will be impressive. Not only was the spacecraft some 20,000 kilometres short of its apogee, it also had an inclination of 26 degrees to reduce. It may be that for “face saving” reasons the insurance claim at will be less than the actual loss of lifespan. China will be reluctant to claim for a Constructive Total Loss, which would be triggered if the claim went above 75%.