The telecoms satellite was on a 15-year mission to provide television and broadband services to Venezuela

The VeneSat-1 satellite, or the Simon Bolivar Satellite, Venezuela’s only state-owned telecoms satellite, is out of service after veering off its orbital course, according to telescopic observations.

Launched in 2008, the satellite, built by China Great Wall Industry Corporation, was intended to complete a 15-year mission to provide television and broadband services to the South American country. But it has now been out of service since March 13.

The Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities (ABAE) in January stated that Venezuela and China were planning to develop a replacement satellite, VeneSat-2, that would continue service after VeneSat-1 retired, which was expected to remain in service until at least 2024.

However, now that the VeneSat-1 has gone out of commission years earlier than anticipated and because it takes two to three years to build a geostationary communications satellite, Venezuela will most likely suffer coverage gaps in the event that it fails to recover VeneSat-1.

While Venezuela’s Ministry of Science confirmed in a statement that the satellite is no longer operational, it did not provide any details as to why.

Analysts in Venezuela, however, posit that a fuel shortage might be behind the satellite’s haywire behavior.

Because the satellite was placed at an orbital slot that was not ideal for providing services to Venezuela, keeping it on track required more fuel, causing many in the industry to believe that the spacecraft would not last the full 15 years, according to Patrick Boza, a Venezuelan telecommunications consultant.

“When this satellite was put in orbit, more fuel than usual was spent trying to stabilize it,” Boza stated.

VeneSat-1’s “significant orbit change” was spotted by California-based ExoAnalytic Solutions, which operates a network of satellite- and debris-tracking telescopes. The satellite abandoned its position at 78 degrees West longitude over Venezuela, Bill Therien, ExoAnalytic’s vice president of engineering, told SpaceNews. He added that roughly three hours later, the satellite tumbled westward following another maneuver.

Pennsylvania-based software company AGI’s Technical Director for Space Situational Awareness Bob Hall said that since March 13, VeneSat-1 has drifted 30 degrees from its original orbital slot, and that a further shift of another 40 degrees, will place the satellite beyond line of sight from Venezuela.

This, he said, would complicate any efforts to restore control of VeneSat-1 without the help of on ground stations in other countries.

The post Venezuela’s only state-owned telecoms satellite veers off course appeared first on RCR Wireless News.


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