Northrop Grumman’s Second Mission Extension Vehicle and Galaxy 30 Satellite Begin Launch Preparations in French Guiana

The second Mission Extension Vehicle and the company-built Galaxy 30 spacecraft have been delivered to the launch site and are scheduled for liftoff in late July. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

The spacecraft will launch together on an Arianespace 5 rocket; MEV-2 set to dock with Intelsat satellite in early 2021

DULLES, Va., June 30, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced today the arrival of the company-built Galaxy 30 (G-30) spacecraft for Intelsat and the Mission Extension Vehicle 2 (MEV-2) at the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. The vehicles are scheduled to launch late July 2020, in a stacked configuration onboard an Ariane 5 rocket.

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Intelsat Procures New Satellites for C-band Spectrum Transition

Contracts in place with U.S. manufacturers Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman

McLean, Va. (Intelsat PR) – Intelsat, operator of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network, today announced that it has contracted for new satellites with U.S. manufacturers, a necessary step to meet the accelerated C-band spectrum clearing timelines established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year.

Intelsat has entered into two new agreements; one with Maxar Technologies to build and deliver four satellites, and another with Northrop Grumman to build and deliver two satellites. Intelsat is currently in negotiations with manufacturers for a seventh satellite required to support its C-band transition.

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Intelsat Files for Bankruptcy

McLean, Va., May 13, 2020 (Intelsat PR) – Intelsat S.A. (NYSE: I) (“Intelsat” or the “Company”), operator of the world’s largest and most advanced satellite fleet and connectivity infrastructure, today announced that it has undertaken a financial restructuring to position the Company for long-term success. The restructuring process is intended to enhance the Company’s liquidity and will likely result in a substantial reduction of Intelsat’s legacy debt burden, allowing for Intelsat to emerge with a strengthened balance sheet to complement its strong operating model and future growth plans.

One of the primary catalysts for restructuring the balance sheet now is Intelsat’s desire to participate in the accelerated clearing of C-band spectrum under the Federal Communications Commission order in support of a build-out of 5G wireless infrastructure in the United States. To meet the FCC’s accelerated clearing deadlines and ultimately be eligible to receive $4.87 billion of accelerated relocation payments, Intelsat needs to spend more than $1 billion on clearing activities. These clearing activities must start immediately, long before costs begin to be reimbursed. The Company is also managing the economic slowdown impacting several of its end markets caused by the COVID-19 global health crisis.

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Mission Extension Vehicle: Breathing Life Back Into In-Orbit Satellites

The Intelsat 901 satellite was successfully returned to service on April 2 using the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1). (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

FALLS Church, Va. (Northrop Grumman PR) — A satellite may be healthy and fully operational, but it can still be retired if its fuel supply has depleted. Once fuel runs dry, that’s it: The satellite is done, unusable. Enter the Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV).

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Intelsat Satellite Returns to Service After Docking with Mission Extension Vehicle

View of IS-901 satellite from Mission Extension Vehicle-1’s (MEV-1) “near hold” position during approach from approximately 20 meters with Earth in the background. The MEV successfully docked with the Intelsat 901 satellite on Tuesday, Feb. 25. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

MCLEAN and DULLES, Va., April 17, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Intelsat (NYSE: I) today announced that Intelsat 901 has returned to service following the successful docking with the first Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1) from Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, SpaceLogistics LLC, on February 25 – the first time that two commercial spacecraft docked in geostationary orbit.

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Intelsat Seeking Bankruptcy Loan

Bloomberg has an update on Intelsat, which is near bankruptcy:

Intelsat SA is seeking backers for a bankruptcy loan that would keep the satellite service in business under Chapter 11 court protection while it’s waiting for billions of dollars in proceeds from a government spectrum auction. Its bonds led decliners in the high-yield market.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is shopping the debtor-in-possession loan to institutional investors, many of whom specialize in financial restructuring, according to people with knowledge of the plans. The loan of about $750 million would help fund necessary improvements to Intelsat’s spectrum ahead of the C-Band auction set to begin later this year.

No formal decisions have been made on the loan, said one of the people. The situation remains fluid and plans could change, depending on market conditions, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing the private arrangements.

Intelsat Selects SpaceX to Launch Intelsat 40e Satellite

MCLEAN, Va. (Intelsat PR)–Intelsat (NYSE: I) has selected SpaceX as its launch partner for Intelsat 40e (IS-40e). The launch is planned for 2022 on SpaceX’s American-built Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

“We look forward to working with SpaceX to launch Intelsat 40e in 2022,” said Intelsat Chief Services Officer Mike DeMarco. “IS-40e will join the Intelsat Epic high-throughput satellite fleet and integrated IntelsatOne ground network to provide our customers with the managed hybrid-connectivity they need in today’s ever-changing world.”

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Northrop Grumman Successfully Completes Historic First Docking of Mission Extension Vehicle with Intelsat 901 Satellite

View of IS-901 satellite from Mission Extension Vehicle-1’s (MEV-1) “near hold” position during approach from approximately 20 meters with Earth in the background. The MEV successfully docked with the Intelsat 901 satellite on Tuesday, Feb. 25. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

DULLES, Va., Feb. 26, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, SpaceLogistics LLC, have successfully completed the first docking of the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1) to the Intelsat 901 (IS-901) spacecraft in order to provide life-extension services. This historic accomplishment marks the first time two commercial satellites have docked in orbit and the first time that mission extension services will be offered to a satellite in geosynchronous orbit.

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Satellite Host Named for NASA Air Pollution Sensor

Maxar will build the Intelsat 40e geostationary communications satellite and integrate NASA’s TEMPO payload with it. (Credit: Maxar Technologies)

A NASA instrument that will measure air quality over North America in unprecedented detail during daylight hours now has a satellite host.

Maxar Technologies and Intelsat recently agreed to partner to host NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) instrument onboard the Intelsat 40e mission. In 2019, NASA selected Maxar to host the TEMPO instrument utilizing the U.S. Air Force Hosted Payload Solutions (HoPS) contract vehicle.

Intelsat 40e is based on Maxar’s 1300-class satellite platform and will provide commercial satellite communications for Intelsat customers in North and Central America. The satellite is scheduled to launch into geostationary orbit 22,236 miles above Earth’s equator in 2022.

TEMPO will make hourly measurements of atmospheric gases — including ozone, nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde as well as aerosols — across North America and provide air quality products that will be made publicly available and help improve air quality forecasting.

“We are excited about this important step required to lay the operational framework for TEMPO’s critical air quality measurements. We look forward to working closely with both Maxar and Intelsat for the successful integration, launch and deployment of TEMPO,” said Stephen Hall, TEMPO project manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

The TEMPO instrument project is led by Principal Investigator Kelly Chance from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The instrument was developed by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, and is in storage awaiting shipment to Maxar’s satellite manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, California.

TEMPO will be part of a constellation of instruments measuring air quality over the Northern Hemisphere that will also include the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-4, currently in development, and South Korea’s Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer, scheduled to launch later this month.

Maxar Technologies will Build Next-Gen Intelsat Epic Communications Satellite with NASA Hosted Payload

Maxar will build the Intelsat 40e geostationary communications satellite and integrate NASA’s TEMPO payload with it. (Credit: Maxar Technologies)

WESTMINSTER, Colo. & MCLEAN, Va. (Maxar PR) — Intelsat (NYSE: I) has selected Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure, to manufacture Intelsat 40e, a next-generation geostationary communications satellite scheduled to launch in 2022. Maxar will integrate NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) payload with the Intelsat 40e satellite.

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BlackSky Secures $50 Million in Funding From Intelsat

Herndon, Va., November 12, 2019 (BlackSky PR) — BlackSky, a leading provider of geospatial intelligence, satellite imaging and global monitoring services, announced it has secured a $50 million senior secured loan from global satellite communications leader, Intelsat (NYSE: I). The transaction results in an industry first, creating a strategic relationship that pairs Earth observation with a global communications infrastructure.

The new capital will allow BlackSky to augment existing assets and alliances, ensuring BlackSky remains a leader in delivering actionable Earth intelligence faster, with greater accuracy and more affordably than anyone else in the industry.  Over time, BlackSky could incorporate access to Intelsat’s robust global communications infrastructure, delivering first-to-know insights to customers no matter where in the world they are.

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Upcoming Launches Include Mission Extension Vehicle, ICON and Starlink Satellites

Mission Extension Vehicle refuels satellite. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Four upcoming launches in the United States, Russia and New Zealand feature payloads to refuel a communications satellite, study space weather, expand SpaceX’s Starlink network, and test out new technology.

October 9

Proton
Payloads: Eutelsat 5 West B communications satellite, Mission Extension Vehicle 1 (MEV 1)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launch Time: 6:17 a.m. EDT (1017 GMT )

This is the first flight of the MEV, which will refuel the Intelsat 901 communications satellite. Both satellites on this launch were built by Northrop Grumman.

October 9/10

Pegasus XL
Payload: Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite
Launch Platform: Stargazer L-1011 aircraft
Departure Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Window: 9:25-10:55 p.m. EDT on Oct. 9 (0125-0255 GMT on Oct. 10)

NASA’s ICON mission will study disturbances in the ionosphere caused by terrestrial weather and solar storms that disrupt radio transmissions and GPS navigation. ICON has suffered repeated delays due to technical problems. The original launch date was in June 2017. The launch is being conducted by Northrop Grumman.

October 14/15

Electron
Payloads: Palisade CubeSat
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Launch Window: 7:00-11:00 p.m. EDT on Oct. 14 (2300-0300 GMT on Oct. 14/15)

Rocket Lab’s “As The Crow Flies” mission is the ninth launch of the Electron rocket Astro Digital’s Palisade technology demonstration satellite is a 16U CubeSat with a next-generation communications system and an an on-board propulsion system.

NET October 17

Falcon 9
Payloads: ~ 60 Starlink 1 communications satellites
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Time: TBD

SpaceX will launch the second group of Starlink 1 broadband satellites no earlier than Oct. 17.

Ariane 5 Orbits Communications Satellites on Third Launch of 2019

Ariane 5 lifts off with the Intelsat 5 and EDRS-C communications satellites aboard. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace marked another success for global telecommunications with launch of the Intelsat 39 and EDRS-C satellites, which were deployed to geostationary transfer orbit on its latest flight using a workhorse Ariane 5.

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Intelsat 29e Failure Tied to External Event

An investigation has pinpointed a space weather event or a micrometeroid strike as the most likely cause of the total failure of the Intelsat 29e communications satellite in April, Spaceflightnow reports.

“The failure review board concluded that the anomaly was either caused by a harness flaw in conjunction with an electrostatic discharge event related to solar weather activity, or the impact of a micrometeoroid,” Intelsat said in a discussion document released Tuesday in conjunction with the company’s second quarter financial numbers.

The board formed to investigate the Intelsat 29e failure included members from Boeing, which built the spacecraft, Intelsat and external independent experts.

Intelsat 29e was launched Jan. 27, 2016, aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana for a planned 15-year mission. Based on the Boeing 702MP satellite design, Intelsat 29e was positioned in geostationary orbit at 50 degrees west longitude, where its thrusters kept the satellite parked over the same geographic region, with the spacecraft’s orbital velocity matching the rate of Earth’s rotation.

Intelsat reported the conclusions of the board when reporting its second quarter financial results.

“We recognized an impairment charge of $381.6 million during the three months ended June 30, 2019 relating to the failure of Intelsat 29e,” the company said in a press release.

“The impairment charge consisted of approximately $377.9 million related to the write-off of the carrying value of the satellite and associated deferred satellite performance incentive obligations,and approximately $3.7 million related to prepaid regulatory fees,” the statement added.

Intelsat Declares Boeing-Built Communications Satellite a Total Loss

LUXEMBOURG, 18 April 2019 (Intelsat PR) – Intelsat S.A. (NYSE: I) announced today that the anomaly previously disclosed on April 10, 2019 has resulted in the total loss of the Intelsat 29e spacecraft. A failure review board has been convened with the satellite’s manufacturer, Boeing, to complete a comprehensive analysis of the cause of the anomaly.

Late on April 7, the Intelsat 29e propulsion system experienced damage that caused a leak of the propellant on board the satellite resulting in a service disruption to customers on the satellite. While working to recover the satellite, a second anomaly occurred, after which all efforts to recover the satellite were unsuccessful.

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