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12.03 : 2012

RSCC is reporting the status of Express-АТ1 and Express-АТ2 DTH satellites that are currently being built for planned launches in Q3 of 2013 to 56oE and 36oE GSO slots, respectively. Based on the information from the spacecraft manufacturer, ISS Reshetnev (Russia), and payload builder Thales Alenia Space (France), fabrication efforts are well on track in accordance with the contractual schedule. The satellites are expected to be ready for launch as planned. This will support their commissioning by 1 November 2013. 

Express-АТ1/-АТ2 satellites will considerably enhance RSCC’s ability to provide DTH services. Available capacity in 56oE and 36oE slots will see more than a 2.5-fold increase, and the satellite coverage zones will also expand. Express-АТ1 is intended to replace Bonum-1, the current tenant of the 36oE slot.

Bonum-1 (36oE) was launched in late 1998 and commissioned in January 1999. As of now, the satellite onboard equipment remains fully functional. On board Bonum-1, the original bus and payload instruments and devices are in good working order, no backup equipment has been used, and no failures recorded. RSCC specialists predict the payload operation capability will remain fully available at least until November 2013. Considering the spacecraft’s service life constraints, its on-latitude station-keeping was terminated in October 2011. Bonum-1 has assumed an inclined orbit, the inclination increasing by 0.8 degrees per year in accordance with the laws of celestial mechanics. As of 1 March 2012, the inclination equaled 0.4 degrees, resulting in loss of signal for antennas of 0.55 – 0.6m diameter within 0.3dB.

To ensure stable reception up until November 2013, antennas should be adjusted accurately towards the satellite nominal on-station point. For the antennas installed after October 2011, antenna tuning should be done twice every 24 hours at the moment the satellite is crossing the equator plane. An appropriate schedule has been provided to broadcaster companies using Bonum-1 capacity to support TV and radio broadcasting.

The prospective Express-АТ1 that will replace Bonum-1 was designed specifically for operations in the 56oE orbital slot. The new satellite will have considerably more transponders – 32 instead of the 8 on the currently operated satellite - and a wider coverage zone embracing simultaneously European Russia, the Urals and Western Siberia. Also, the new satellite EIRP will be 1 to 2dB superior to that of Bonum-1, resulting in higher signal reception stability. The launch of Express-АТ1 will enable the broadcasters to provide state-of-the-art high-quality HD, 3D and other services to users in the European and Central Russia.