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Astra 1K orbit raised
Posted: Thu, Nov 28, 2002, 1:21 PM ET (1821 GMT)
Astra 1K illustration (SES Astra) Spacecraft controllers have raised the orbit of Astra 1K, the communications satellite stranded in LEO after a Proton upper stage failure Tuesday, in an effort to avoid an immediate reentry. A statement published Thursday by satellite operator SES Astra reported that the spacecraft had been moved from its initial orbit of just 175 kilometers to a 290-km circular orbit. Without the maneuver, the spacecraft would have reentered as early as Saturday. The new orbit allows spacecraft controllers time "to assess the status of the satellite and appropriate actions," according to the SES Astra statement. The low orbit makes it unlikely the spacecraft can be used commercially, although it may be available for engineering tests. Raising the spacecraft into geostationary orbit also appears unlikely, barring a high-profile — and high-cost — rescue mission by the space shuttle. Although the $280-million spacecraft was fully insured, SES Astra has announced no plans for ordering a replacement; the company noted in its statement that the company has plenty of capacity at 19.2 degrees east, the orbital slot where Astra 1K was to have been deployed.
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