The year 1994 also marked the long awaited debut of the first of the next-generation Russian GEO communications satellites. These spacecraft, designed and built by the Applied Mechanics NPO, utilize a new, modernized MSS-2500 class bus with greater electrical power, higher precision station-keeping capabilities (including north-south station-keeping), and longer life. The first of these spacecraft to appear was Gals 1 on 20 January 1994, followed by Express 1 on 13 October. Both employed the MSS-2500-GSO-01 spacecraft bus. Two other models (MSS-2500-GSO-02 and MSS-2500-GSO) are still under development.
The Gals television broadcasting satellite, originally expected to be launched by December, 1990, is designed to support a variety of direct broadcast customers, including professional broad-casting firms (receiving antenna 2.5 m in diameter), communal associations (receiving antenna 1.5 m), and individuals (receiving antenna 0.6-0.9 m). The 2,500-kg spacecraft with a payload mass of 420 kg was originally scheduled for deployments at only two locations: 23 degrees E with three spacecraft and 44 degrees E with two spacecraft. Later, positions at 74 degrees E, 110 degrees E, and 140 degrees E were added. The constellation may be altered to consist of spacecraft at 36 degrees E, 56 degrees E, 86 degrees E, 110 degrees E, and 140 degrees E. Two solar arrays with a total power of 2.4 kW support three Ku-band transponders (one 40 W and two 80 W). The spacecraft bus measures 4.1 m by 6.6 m with a 21-m span across the solar arrays. The design lifetime is 57 years (References 311-316).
Like most Russian GEO spacecraft, Gals 1 was inserted into the GEO ring near 90 degrees E. A western drift was assigned to permit the vehicle to reach 44 degrees E by early February, 1994. After an initial checkout during which problems were detected with one of the three transponders, Gals 1 was unexpectedly transferred to 71 degrees E during May-June to service, not the Russian Federation, but the PRC and Taiwan. Gals 1 remained at 71 degrees E for the remainder of 1994 (References 312, 317-319).
Gals 1 also signaled the first civilian control of a major applications spacecraft. The new Main Control Center at Krasnoyarsk in Siberia (home of the Applied Mechanics NPO), rather than the military satellite control facility at Golitsyno-2, was in charge of Gals 1's day-today operations. Gals 1 further tested the Russian SPT-100 ion thruster created by the Fakel Design Bureau. This evaluation program was conducted in conjunction with France's SEP firm and U.S.'s Loral Space Systems Company (References 318, 320-322).
Three modifications of Gals are already envisioned. Gals-R will add a fourth transponder and permit zonal (broad area) television broadcasting. The Gals-R6 and Gals-R12 variants will carry 6 and 12 transponders, respectively. The first launch of a Gals-R vehicle was tentatively set for 1996. Two Gals-R class spacecraft have reportedly been ordered by a Chinese company for launches beginning in 1998 (References 262, 313, 323-324).
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