A communications satellite of Russia’s Gazprom Space Systems built by France which was launched on May 30 is moving towards its final destination in geostationary orbit with the help of backup thrusters that are propelling it forward after one of its main engines faced some issues. A series of burns had been planned by its ground controllers with usage of main engine of Yamal 601 satellite to push the craft into orbit of 36,000 kilometers above the equator. Its speed at that level is expected to match earth’s rotation that would give the satellite Yamal 601 continuous coverage over Russia, Middle East and some sections of Southeast Asia.
According to Gazprom Space Systems they had to cut short main engine burn scheduled for June 1 when the satellite’s pointing drifted away from its expected parameters. Though the spacecraft moved into safe mode its other systems remained healthy. Its operators believe that the problem was caused due to deviation in the satellite’s primary orbit-raising engine’s thrust vector that had been built by Germany based ArianeGroup. The prime manufacturer of Yamal 601 spacecraft, France’s Thales Alenia Space then determined that its lower thrust rocket engines can be applied towards orbit increase.
The Yamal 601 satellite weighing around 5400 kilograms was successfully launched by Russia’s Proton Rocket on May 30 from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. The Breeze M upper stage of Proton delivered the Yamal 601 into its pre-determined target elliptical orbit. It will now orbit within geostationary high point altitude of 22,000 miles above earth and low point of 4,000 miles. It was the satellite’s own propulsion system that helped maneuver it towards reaching geostationary orbit and its main S400 engine produces 90 pounds of thrust while its smaller control jet generates approx. two pounds of thrust. Gazprom stated that burning small thrusters for long duration will help the Yamal 601 reach its target orbit by July.