Angola loses first satellite and now awaits the launch of a second one

Angola has announced the loss of its recently launched first national telecoms satellite, Angosat-1, after it suffered setbacks from the Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan, Russia.

The telecommunications satellite was launched in December 2017 and had a working life expectancy of 15 years. But it had many challenges, including the loss of communications, and despite many attempts at recovery, contact with the satellite was lost forever.

“The satellite remained in orbit from December 26 to 30. After that we had a problem,” said Igor Frolov, a representative of the satellite manufacturer Energia RSC—a unit of Russia’s space agency.

On December 26, RCS Energia announced that contact with AngoSat 1 was lost while the satellite was moving to its geostationary orbit due to low onboard batteries. By the next day, communications were restored with the satellite after the satellite was properly aligned with the sun to allow the onboard batteries to recharge. It was later confirmed that its onboard systems were in good health.

However, AngoSat-1, continued to drift westward, and by mid-January, the satellite had passed over its operational point without any visible attempt to slow down and stop its drift.

Angolan Telecommunications Minister Jose Carvalho da Rocha said Russian-made Angosat-1 would be replaced by a successor, Angosat-2, under a new agreement with Russia. Angosat-2 is expected to launch in 2020 as building plans are underway at no cost to Angola.

Angosat-2 is expected to have more capacity and be more sophisticated than its predecessor, although it still has its goals of Angosat-1, which is to improve satellite communication, internet access and broadcasting of radio and television across Africa.

The Angosat project was founded by a collaboration between Russia and Angola in 2009 and it has a control centre in Luanda, Angolan capital.