ASTRA satellites

 
 

Where are the ASTRA satellites? How can more than one satellite occupy the same position? How are the ASTRA satellite controlled? What new ASTRA satellites will be launched in the future? How much does each ASTRA satellite cost? Do the ASTRA satellites ever go wrong?

Where are the ASTRA satellites?

All the ASTRA satellites operate in the geostationary orbit, some 36,000km above the Earth’s equator. ASTRA groups the satellites in five clusters, at the ASTRA 19.2°E, ASTRA 28.2°E, ASTRA 23.5°E, ASTRA 5°E and ASTRA 31.5°E positions.

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How can more than one satellite occupy the same position?

Within the cluster of satellites at each of ASTRA’s orbital positions, the satellites are kept separated from one another by several kilometres. To a satellite dish on the ground, they appear to all be in the same position in the sky.

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How are the ASTRA satellite controlled?

The ASTRA satellites require constant monitoring to ensure they are operating properly and are kept in the correct position in space. They can be moved using tiny thrusters directed from the ground. Monitoring and control is undertaken at SES headquarters in Betzdorf, Luxembourg.

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What new ASTRA satellites will be launched in the future?

ASTRA regularly commissions and launches new satellites to replace those reaching the end of their serviceable life and to expand the capacity and coverage for the latest digital TV channels via ASTRA. When the deployment of a new or replacement satellite affects viewers, this is announced ahead of time through a wide range of media.

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How much does each ASTRA satellite cost?

The cost to build each ASTRA satellite is enormous, as they are made to operate in an extremely harsh environment 24 hours/day for years on end without any intervention. The cost of launching the satellites into orbit is also huge. So, each satellite costs over US$300m.

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Do the ASTRA satellites ever go wrong?

Like all machines, satellites can develop faults or even fail. ASTRA satellites have experienced problems in the past that have prevented them from operating at full capacity. Fortunately, ASTRA operates a policy of providing in-orbit backup for its satellites and this means that in the event of a problem, capacity on another satellite in the same position can be instantly switched into operation to maintain the service.

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