Thuraya-3 satellite’s comms payload fails in orbit

by | Apr 23, 2024 | Reliability Info, Satellites, Seradata News

Middle Eastern satellite operator Yahsat’s subsidiary Thuraya has lost the communications payload on one of its satellites. The Thuraya-3 communications satellite, located over 98.5 degrees east in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO), had a serious payload anomaly on 15 April.

Artist’s impression of Thuraya-3 in orbit. Courtesy: Thuraya

The company has not released details of the anomaly but reported that communications services were significantly diminished, although the spacecraft remains under control. However, without a functioning communications payload, the whole spacecraft is, in effect, rendered pointless since its only mission is to provide communication to the ground. Engineers at Thuraya and Boeing Satellite Systems, which built the satellite, are working on the fault.

Thuraya-3 was launched in January 2008 and had already exceeded its 15-year design life. Seradata understands that the spacecraft is no longer insured (it was insured up to December 2023).

A Thuraya-4-NGS spacecraft is under order from Airbus Defence and Space and will be launched in 2024. Thuraya also operates the Thuraya-2 spacecraft in GEO at 44 degrees east.

Comment by David Todd: The fault might not be on the communications payload itself but on a separate subsystem with a significant effect on the communications payload (eg power).

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