LONDON — Eutelsat’s newest satellite reached its target position in the geostationary orbit this week only four months after its launch, setting an industry record for the fastest all electric orbit-raising.
Eutelsat-172b was launched June 1 along with Viast-2 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.
The satellite’s builder Airbus said the record time had been achieved thanks to a set of innovations including a pair of deployable robotic arms that orientate the satellite’s Hall thrusters allowing better control of the thrust direction and attitude during different phases of the mission.
The orbit raising has been conducted by Airbus using the firm’s Wide Angle Localisation Integrated System (WALIS) global network of ground stations, which enabled engineers to control the orbit-raising operations until the satellite reached geostationary orbit.
Eutelsat-172b is the first all-electric satellite in orbit built by Airbus. Previously, electric orbit-raising has been used on four smaller and lighter craft built by Airbus’s U.S. competitor Boeing. Orbit-raising of those satellites took between six to seven months.
Even with the current record electric orbit-raising is still considerably slower than using chemical propulsion. According to Airbus, a chemical propulsion system would have taken Eutelsat-172b to its target position in a week. However, Airbus spokesman ...