Lockheed Martin completes main assembly of Hellas-Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1
Lockheed Martin has completed the primary assembly of the Hellas-Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1 communications satellite and has shipped the spacecraft to its environmental testing facility in Sunnyvale, California. The satellite is the first of two satellites in the Arabsat-6G program and the first of the modernized LM 2100 series spacecraft. SaudiGeoSat-1 is being built by Lockheed Martin for King Abdulaziz City for Science and technology.
The LM 2100 spacecraft platform is a modernized version of the older A2100 satellite bus for geostationary satellites. The A2100 platform has a long history as a geostationary platform; the new LM 2100 platform incorporates improvements including electric engines (Hall-effect thrusters) – to supplement the chemical propulsion system – and large, flexible, more efficient solar panels.
At Lockheed Martin’s facility in Sunnyvale, California, the Hellas-Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1 spacecraft will undergo final assembly, receiving its solar arrays and communications antennas.
Afterward, the satellite will undergo integrated testing of its components and crucial environmental testing to ensure that it will survive the rigors of the launch as well as those it will encounter in space.
“Environmental testing is an essential set of activities to ensure the satellite can operate as designed in the extreme conditions of space and will meet our customers’ needs,” said Joe Rickers, Lockheed Martin’s Arabsat-6G program manager, in the firm’s news release. “Now that assembly of the Hellas-Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1 satellite is complete and environmental testing is on the horizon, we’re one step closer to providing greatly improved communications capabilities for our customers.”
Hellas-Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1 is scheduled for launch sometime in the third quarter of 2018 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket with a cryogenic ECA upper stage. After launch, it will be deployed to geostationary orbit at 39 degrees East longitude, where it is expected to serve for 15 years.
The next spacecraft in the series is Arabsat-6A and will also be based on the LM 2100 platform. The launch of the satellite is expected in sometime in early 2018, possibly aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket. Arabsat-6A will deploy to geostationary orbit at 30.9 degrees East latitude and is also expected to serve for 15 years.
Both the Hellas-Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1 and Arabsat-6A spacecraft were ordered by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology from Lockheed Martin in 2015 for delivery and launch in 2018.
Christopher Paul has had a lifelong interest in spaceflight. He began writing about his interest in the Florida Tech Crimson. His primary areas of interest are in historical space systems and present and past planetary exploration missions. He lives in Kissimmee, Florida, and also enjoys cooking and photography. Paul saw his first Space Shuttle launch in 2005 when he moved to central Florida to attend classes at the Florida Institute of Technology, studying space science, and has closely followed the space program since. Paul is especially interested in the renewed effort to land crewed missions on the Moon and to establish a permanent human presence there. He has covered several launches from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral for space blogs before joining SpaceFlight Insider in mid-2017.