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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.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.