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IST Debuts Its Stationary Plasma Thrusters On Loral-Built MBSAT Satellite

Palo Alto CA (SPX) Jun 29, 2004
International Space Technologies, Inc. (ISTI), a developer of stationary plasma thrusters (SPT) used to keep satellites on station, announced Monday that its SPTs have been successfully deployed, tested and are now being used in routine on-station operations on the recently launched MBSAT satellite, built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), Palo Alto, Calif. for Mobile Broadcasting Corporation (MBCO) of Japan and SK Telecom of Korea.

ISTI is a joint venture of Fakel Experimental Design Bureau of Kaliningrad, Russia, Snecma Moteurs of France and SS/L, a subsidiary of Loral Space & Communications.

MBSAT, which was successfully launched on March 13, 2004, uses SPTs for North/South station keeping maneuvers that keep a satellite in its proper position throughout the satellite's 12-year operational life. Since the satellite's launch, MBSAT's SPTs have logged over 100 hours of routine orbit maneuvers.

SPTs are low thrust, Hall-effect thrusters that use available spacecraft electrical power to ionize and accelerate an inert gas, Xenon, to create the thrust to move the satellite. They are controlled and powered by specially developed and highly efficient Power Processing Units designed and manufactured by Space Systems/Loral.

"The successful in-orbit testing of MBSAT's SPTs is a significant step that validates the technology's ability to reduce the amount of propellant satellites must carry to keep spacecraft in correct orbital position and attitude," said Michael Day, ISTI vice president.

"The amount of propellant saved can be more than 20 percent of the total mass of a spacecraft, freeing up volume and carrying capacity that can be used for larger, more powerful and flexible payloads," Mr. Day added.

"SPT development is part of the on-going drive of the satellite industry to improve satellite performance and reliability."

Two more satellites under construction at SS/L - Intelsat Americas 8 (formerly Telstar 8) and Shin Satellite's iPSTAR - also will carry the thrusters when they are launched later this year.

Together, Snecma Moteurs and SS/L have purchased more than 50 SPTs from ISTI. Snecma supplies SPTs to European satellite manufacturers and SS/L will use them on spacecraft it builds.

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SkyNet Autonomy
by Ed Stiles
for Astrobiology Magazine
Moffet Field CA (SPX) Jun 25, 2004
There's nothing worse than a satellite that can't make decisions. Rather than organizing data, it simply spews out everything it collects, swamping scientists with huge amounts of information. It's like getting a newspaper with no headlines or section pages in which all the stories are strung together end-to-end.

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