SinoSat2, Optus D1 on the Fritz

We wrote in September about China’s efforts to improve television coverage for up to 300 million mainland households through the launch of the SinoSat2 communications satellite, which lifted on October 29th.

Now reports are coming in that SinoSat2 is failing less than a month after being launched. IOL reports:

 A Chinese communications and broadcast satellite is failing less than a month into orbit because of malfunctioning solar panels, a China-watching Hong Kong-based group said on Monday.

The SinoSat-2 satellite, launched on October 29 in the southwestern province of Sichuan, is designed to serve live television signals and digital broadband multimedia systems in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

But technicians discovered its main solar panel had failed to unfold as planned on November 7, disabling some antennae from receiving ground instructions, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.

"Chinese satellite experts are doing their utmost to save it but the chance of success is slim," the group said in a faxed statement, quoting unnamed sources.

One hopes things are going better with China’s seed breeding satellite. 

SinoSat2’s failure was not the only satellite to give the satellite underwriting market "a serious setback this week," as Satellite Finance (subscription required) reports:

 Next came the problems faced by Optus D1…. After the satellite was launched in orbit tests showed that one of the antennas was not functioning properly. The insurance placement was done by ISB.
“Insurers were sworn to absolute secrecy on it,” said one source. “The rumour is that they’re looking at a 50% partial loss.” The satellite was insured for a total of US$130m and Optus may thus get US$65m. Whether underwriters will subsequently turn to Orbital Sciences, the satellite’s manufacturer, in an attempt to recoup some of the outlay remains to be seen.