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Bye Bye MARISAT

Yesterday morning we established our last communication link to MARISAT F-2. Today Intelsat initiated the de-orbit maneuver. The satellite was launched in October of 1976 and performed for 32 years. We have used MARISAT F-2 for number of years from the South Pole and it has been one of our most reliable links to the outside world. The end has come suddenly. Deterioration of the telecommand link caused concerns for the operator INTELSAT and they scheduled de-orbit for the end of November but moved it forward to October 30 with a week’s notice.

The first commercial mobile communications satellite, MARISAT, in  1975, built by Hughes for Comsat and used by both U.S. Navy and merchant  marine ships. (Courtesy of Hughes Space and Communications Company)

The first commercial mobile communications satellite, MARISAT, in 1975, built by Hughes for Comsat and used by both U.S. Navy and merchant marine ships. (Courtesy of Hughes Space and Communications Company)

I work on the BICEP telescope and thus observe a sidereal schedule, which means I shift forward roughly four minutes a day, just like the satellite schedule. For two years MARISAT F-2 has been my steady companion, becoming visible form the South Pole roughly the same time I get up. I’ll miss it! No more reading the daily news while having a cup of coffee in the morning :-(

MARISAT F-2 offered global maritime communications when launched in October of 1976 and was the second member of a three satellite system all launched that year. The satellites were manufactured by Hughes Aircraft Company and became the first global maritime system. It was launched aboard a Delta-2914 from Cape Canaveral by NASA.

[tags]Antarctica, South Pole, Comms, MARISAT[/tags]

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