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Astra 1K deorbited
Posted: Tue, Dec 10, 2002, 8:54 AM ET (1354 GMT)
Astra 1K illustration (SES Astra) Satellite operator SES Astra announced Tuesday that it has deorbited its Astra 1K spacecraft, two weeks after a launch failure stranded it in low Earth orbit. The spacecraft was deorbited over the South Pacific Ocean at approximately 9:00 pm EST Monday (0200 GMT) with the assistance of satellite manufacturer Alcatel Space and the French space agency CNES. SES said it decided to deorbit Astra 1K after it concluded that an in-orbit recovery of the spacecraft was "not a viable option" because of the technical difficulties involved and the "rapid degradation" of the spacecraft. Astra 1K was launched November 26th on a Proton K from Baikonur but was stranded in low Earth orbit when the booster's Block DM upper stage failed to reignite for the second of four planned burns. Last week Orbital Recovery Corporation, a startup company developing a space tug to extend the life of spacecraft, said it was in discussions with the "stakeholders" of Astra 1K — presumed to be SES and/or the spacecraft's insurers — to use the company's tug to boost the spacecraft into GEO in 2004. However, at the same time as that announcement, satellite observers noted that the spacecraft's orbit was becoming more elliptical with a decreasing perigee, a sign that SES was preparing to deorbit the spacecraft.
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