Infomation and thoughts about Superbird A

Philip Chien (
Wed, 16 Oct 1996 22:32:04 -0400

Ron Lee <> said:

>Neat ideas guys.  Is there any way to get in touch with
>the satellite owners (Japanese?) to determine the satellite

no need, there's plenty of info available.

Superbird A was launched on Ariane V31, a 44L rocket on June 5, 1989.  Its
assigned orbital location was 158 East.  On December 9, 90 there was a loss
of attitude control propellant, which caused the satellite to go out of
control and it was declared a loss.

Unfortunately SSC Japan kept up its string of bad luck - Superbird B was
lost in the Ariane V36 failure on February 26, 1990.

Superbird B1 was successfully launched on February 26, 1992, and Superbird
A1 was launched on December 1st of the same year.  As far as I know those
satellites are in operation.

Check out the following web site for information on Space Systems Loral and
their satellites -

understandably they don't have much details on the Superbird failure on a
public web site.  But there's plenty of details on the Superbird series,
and the generic SS/Loral bus which is used for most of their projects.
Superbird uses the 'standard' model with the dual solar arrays which so
many west coasters have successfully viewed. (Rob Matson) noted:

>I'm convinced that there must be
>  A) More periodic flashers drifting in the geosynchronous
>     Sargasso Sea,

true, but most of the early satellites are spinners (e.g. without large
flat solar arrays), and as a rule the earlier satellites are smaller.

Also, remember that dead geosync satellites tend to drift towards a point
south of India.  So it would be interesting to see if there are several
flashers in that point of the sky from a suitable viewing location.
Anybody want to mount an expedition?

Philip Chien, Earth News - space writer and consultant  PCHIEN@IDS.NET
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