20 Years in Orbit!

September 27, 2019 Exactly 20 years ago, on September 27, 1999, Baikonur Cosmodrome witnessed the launch of the LMI-1 satellite, which was deployed at Intersputnik’s orbital slot at 75°E and which is currently the second longest-serving geostationary operational spacecraft. On September 27, 1999, LMI-1, a commercial geostationary satellite, was injected into orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome on a Proton-K rocket.

Built for the Lockheed-Martin-Intersputnik joint venture with the A2100AX bus, the satellite was placed in commercial service in November 1999.

A joint venture headquartered in London, UK, Lockheed-Martin-Intersputnik (LMI) was founded in 1997 by the Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications (Intersputnik) and Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications (LMGT), a subsidiary of the American corporation Lockheed Martin. The American partner was responsible for the financing of the manufacture and launch of four telecommunications satellites while Intersputnik made available 15 orbital slots it had filed with the ITU for the deployment and operation of these four satellites.

Immediately after the launch, LMI announced that the efficient and economical path of bringing the satellite to the operational position had helped save propellant and increase the satellite’s lifetime from 15 to 21 years. The payload consisted of 28 C-band and 16 Кu-band transponders.

LMI-1 was controlled by a network of earth stations located in Sunnyvale, Ca.; Dubna, Russia; and Shipka, Bulgaria. Sunnyvale received telemetry, controlled the orbit and the satellite’s service systems. For the LMI-1 mission, there was set up a system of three parabolic antennas at RSCC’s Satellite Telecommunications Center in Dubna. A station at Shipka monitored networks, which used the Ku-band South beam.

Left to right: Dan Crowley, Operations Director of LMCSS, the manufacturer of the satellite; Gennady Kudryavtsev, Intersputnik Director General and Co-Chairman of the LMI Board of Directors; John Montague, LMGT Vice-President and CFO; Leonard Dest, Vice-President of International Launch Services, the launch service provider.

In September 2006, LMI was bought by Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS). The LMI-1 satellite changed ownership and was re-named ABS-1. Up to 2014, the satellite was located in the initial orbital position at 75°E and used wide service areas. After a second satellite, ABS-2, was co-located and brought into use in the same position, ABS-1 was moved to 159°E and re-named ABS-6. Thus, it is now the second longest-serving satellite in a stable geostationary orbit.
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