Satellite that lost contact gone forever, company says

Satellite that lost contact gone forever, company says

Amos 5 fully de-energized and can’t be recovered, Spacecom says, announcing plans to sue insurer for $158 million

A rendering of the Amos 5 satellite (CC BY-SA Andrzej Olchawa/Wikimedia Commons)
A rendering of the Amos 5 satellite (CC BY-SA Andrzej Olchawa/Wikimedia Commons)

The Israeli company Spacecom announced Tuesday that the communications satellite Amos 5 had suffered a total breakdown, after three weeks of trying to get the crippled device back online.

The Amos 5 provided services mostly to clients in Africa, the company said, as well as to other companies including the French telecommunications giant Orange and several Israeli clients.

In a message to investors, Spacecom said it would sue the company insuring the satellite for $158 million.

The firm said the Russian manufacturer, JSC Information Satellite Systems – Reshetnev, declared the satellite to be “fully de-energized.”

“The malfunction is final and any additional operation of the satellite will be impossible,” it said.

Contact with Amos 5, the fifth in a series of communications satellites launched by Spacecom, was lost about three weeks ago.

“From the moment contact was lost with the satellite, countless attempts were made to renew contact, but they all failed,” Spacecom said in the statement.

The device has been plagued with a series of faults since its launch from Kazakhstan in 2011, leading the company to announce that it may not remain in service as long as initially planned – until 2027.

Reshetnev has established a committee to monitor actions done in order to renew contact with the satellite and also tested the malfunction that caused the communications breakdown in the first place.

Spacecom said the cause of the malfunction was still not clear.

“According to optical observation, the satellite was seen in orbit on its course spinning around at a pace typical for satellites in which systems are totally malfunctioning. […] All orders sent to the satellite from the ground control center were found to be written correctly,” Spacecom said in the statement. “According to the manufacturer, the most likely reason for the malfunction is a complete failure of the power supply system, as a result of a malfunction inside or from an object hitting a part of the power supply system or the associated wiring.”


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