Astra group over Europe

From: satcom (john@satcom.freeserve.co.uk)
Date: Sat Oct 22 2005 - 06:58:50 EDT

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    Poor weather continues here in the UK , but I did get chance to catch a 
    glimpse of the Astra group (SES) at the geo position of 19.2 east last 
    night.
    
    About a year ago , one of the seven satellites , Astra 1B stopped 
    transmitting.
    Shortly afterwards I noticed it had been put out to graze at 19.4 
    east...outside the contol box.
    
    It also exhibited much brighter qualities than the other birds in the fleet.
    
    Over the last 12 months I have been monitoring this bird .It continues to 
    glow at about mag 9/10 , whilst the rest trickle along at the expected mag 
    12.
    
    I have been assured that 1B is not sick , but is simply there as an on orbit 
    spare.
    Bearing in mind cacpacity at this location is already full strecthed that 
    seems strange. Why put a useable satellite out to graze when its 
    transponders are needed ( As borne out by the fact that the launch of Astra 
    1KR is eagerly awaited)
    
    1B is certainly still "controlled" , however it looks to me as if it is 
    permanent sun pointing orientation.
    
    I suspect the bird , from a TVRO point of view is dead , and merely being 
    maintained there as a last resort . . . . perhaps to keep us "observers" 
    happy  :O)
    
    Once Astra 1KR is launched..........( presently delayed ) it will be 
    interesting to see where 1B goes. Its already 14 years old and I suspect , 
    like 1A before it , it will drfit silently and unceremoniously away!
    
    Latest picture of the astra group can be seen here :
    http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/satcom_transits/Astras_Feb_and_Oct_2005.jpg 
    alongside one taken back in February.
    
    John 
    
    
    
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