Doug Lung /
12.09.2010 02:05 PM
SkyTerra 1 Antenna Deployment Problems

Space News reported SkyTerra 1 is having trouble with its 22-meter antenna, the largest commercial reflector of its kind ever launched. Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems and antenna builder Harris Corp. are trying to find a way to completely deploy the antenna.

One solution, mentioned in the article, was to use a ground-commanded spacecraft movement to gently "shake" the antenna.

Space News quoted an industry official as saying, "The situation does not look good but it's too early to say whether it's a major issue or something that will be forgotten in a few months."

SkyTerra 1 is a key component in LightSquared's combined space and terrestrial wireless communications system providing nationwide coverage. FCC authorizations for satellites have milestones and service deadlines licensees must meet to keep the license.

It isn't clear if the FCC will allow LightSquared, the licensee of the satellite, to build out the terrestrial part of the system before the satellite is operational.

The Space News article, Boeing Space Wrestling with Antenna Glitch on SkyTerra 1 by Peter B. de Selding describes how the large antennas are deployed and the problems other satellites have had with smaller 12-meter reflectors.

I did not find any details about this on the SkyTerra , Boeing or Harris news release pages.

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Posted by: Brian Smith
Thu, 12-16-2010 11:25 PM Report Comment
There was a known design flaw that was not shared with the Harbinger team before the deal was done in the fall of 2009...the original Terrastar satellite and reflector were designed while Terrastar was part of MSV/SkyTerra/Lightsquared and there were always concerns during construction that Harris could not make the bigger reflector (40%+ larger than Terrastar's) work with the strength of the material being used...this was no surprise to any of the legacy senior management from SkyTerra that stayed after the transition to Lightsquared...caveat emptor!

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