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N° 38–1993: Loss of service from Olympus

17 August 1993

During the night of 11/12 August 1993, service from ESA's experimental Olympus telecommunications satellite was interrupted by an incident where the satellite lost its normal Earth pointing attitude and began slowly spinning. The reasons for this anomaly are not yet understood but a team of ESA and industry specialists is analyzing all available data.

At present, the satellite is spinning at approximately 2 rpm (revolutions per minute) and is drifting eastward at some 2 deg. per day. The solar array is generating adequate power and the thermal situation on the spacecraft is stable, so there is sufficient time (two weeks or more) to complete analyses on the status of the satellite and initiate recovery procedures before either entering the eclipse period or drifting out of visibility of the Fucino Control Centre.

It is not yet known whether the small amount of propellant remaining in the spacecraft is adequate to recover attitude and orbit control and recommence useful service with the satellite again. If this proves not to be the case, ESA will concentrate on determining whether there is a possibility of reorbiting it out of the geostationary orbit.