Astra 3A at 23.5° East
In August 2000, satellite operator SES ordered their Astra 3A satellite with Hughes Space & Communications International (Boeing Commercial Satellite Systems). The satellite would help SES Astra meet growing demand for digital satellite services and is providing follow-on capacity for Deutsche Telekom’s Kopernikus satellite at 23.5° East. Astra 3A had a contracted service life of at least 10 years. The satellite provided high-power cable and direct-to-home (DTH) broadband services to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Astra 3A, a spin-stabilized spacecraft, operates with 20 active Ku-band transponders.
The BSS-376HP spin-stabilized spacecraft consists of two main sections. One is the spinning section, which contains the apogee kick motor, power system, primary propulsion, and most of the attitude control and command and telemetry subsystem elements. The fully redundant subsystem controls and monitors the spacecraft through all mission phases. The primary propulsion subsystem controls spacecraft orbital velocity, inclination, attitude, and spin speed. The other main section of the spacecraft is the despun portion, which houses the customized communications payload, including the transmitters, receivers, and antennas.
All BSS-376 models have two telescoping cylindrical solar panels. These panels and the deployable antennas are stowed for compactness during launch. The highly reliable design makes full use of a nickel-hydrogen battery to maintain uninterrupted broadcasting during eclipses. The Astra 2D and 3A solar panels use gallium arsenide solar cells similar to those proven on previous Hughes spacecraft. The 376 design minimizes the number of required mechanisms and has never had a deployment failure.
Astra 3A was launched on March 28th, 2002 on an Ariane 44L booster rocket operated by launch operator Arianespace from the Kourou Space Port in French Guiana.