Astra 2D Satellite

The Astra 2D satellite is no longer in service at 28.2° east, all frequencies and channels have been transferred to Astra 2E and Astra 2F. Astra 2D is one of the Astra communications satellites owned and operated by SES, and located at 28.2° east in the Clarke Belt. It is a Hughes HS-376 craft and was launched from the Guiana Space Centre in December 2000 to join Astra 2A and Astra 2B at 28.2°E, where it has remained for its active life.


Astra 2D Specifications

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16 active 39-w TWTAs for DTH Receivers 4 for 2

Beginning of life: 1600 watts End of life: 1400 watts Panels: 2 telescoping cylindrical solar panels with large area gallium arsenide solar cells Batteries: 16-cell, 141 AH NiH

Solid apogee motor: Thiokol Star 30C station keeping thrusters N-S (bipropellant): 2 x 5.0 lbf E-W (bipropellant) Fuel life: 2 x 5.0 lbf 12 Years 80″ (2.03 m) diameter shaped surface reflector Precision antenna pointing system maintains accuracy of better than 0.10 degrees Two shaped surfaces: One for vertical linear polarization for communication One for horizontal linear polarization for communications plus tracking
DIMENSIONS In orbit: H, deployed: 26 ft 2 in (7.97 m), W, deployed: 7 ft 1 in (2.17 m) Stowed: H: 10 ft 4 in (3.15 m), W: 7 ft 1 in (2.17 m)

MASS: Launch: 3186 lb (1445 kg) In orbit (beginning of life): 1816 lb (824 kg)

BEACON FREQUENCY: 10.701.250 Vertical

Astra 2D Fact Sheet SES fact sheet about Astra 2D (PDF)


About the Astra 2D Satellite

Astra 2D Launch
The launch of Astra 2D

In August 1999, Hughes Space and Communications International, now Boeing Satellite Development Center, was awarded two satellite contracts from Société Européenne des Satellites (SES) of Luxembourg. The new awards are the 8th and 9th to Hughes from SES and will bring the total number of satellites in the SES fleet to 13.
Astra 2D, the first spin-stabilized satellite in the SES fleet, a Boeing 376HP, used for high-power, satellite transmissions across the British Isles.

It was successfully launched on an Ariane 5 on Dec. 19, 2000. The Boeing 376 is one of the most popular spacecraft models. The delivery-in-orbit contract includes the satellite, launch services, and ground station control software for use at the control centre, plus training for new satellite controllers.
The Astra satellites are controlled from the SES ground station at Betzdorf in Luxembourg. Astra 2D is the 55th 376 to be ordered from Hughes and Boeing.

It carried 18 travelling-wave tube amplifiers, 16 of which were active.

The signals were transmitted via 39-watt travelling-wave tube amplifiers. Astra 2D delivered digital direct-to-home television to Great Britain and Ireland.
Only two of the satellite’s four onboard receivers were used at any given time.

The Boeing 376 spin-stabilized spacecraft consists of two main sections. One is the spinning section, which contains the apogee kick motor, power system, primary propulsion, and most of the attitude control and command and telemetry subsystem elements.
The fully redundant subsystem controls and monitors the spacecraft through all mission phases.
The primary propulsion subsystem controls spacecraft orbital velocity, inclination, attitude, and spin speed. The other main section of the spacecraft is the despun portion, which houses the customized communications payload, including the transmitters, receivers, and antennas.

Astra 2D is similar to the other operational Boeing 376HP satellites, the first of which was launched in January 1996. A standard bus was used.
All Boeing 376 models have two telescoping cylindrical solar panels. These panels and the deployable antennas are stowed for compactness during launch.
The highly reliable design makes full use of a nickel-hydrogen battery to maintain uninterrupted broadcasting during eclipses. The Astra 2D solar panels use gallium arsenide solar cells similar to those proven on previous Hughes spacecraft.
The 376 design minimizes the number of required mechanisms and has never had a deployment failure. Boeing Satellite Development Center is the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial communications satellites and a major provider of space systems, satellites and payloads for national defence, science and environmental applications.


In Service

Astra 2D UK Spotbeam

While active, most of Astra 2D’s transponders were used to provide television channels available on the Sky Digital satellite service to the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland and the non-subscription service, Freesat. Provision of rights-sensitive broadcasts Free to air was made possible by the satellite’s beam that was tightly focused on the United Kingdom and Ireland. However, surrounding countries had the ability to pick up the signal (dependent on suitably sized satellite dishes) and so could still access Freesat from outside the UK.

Some channels on Astra 2D were encrypted with Videoguard (a proprietary encryption method by the NDS Group) and only Sky Digiboxes with valid cards could decrypt them.

The BBC broadcast all of its domestic television channels (including BBC HD and the regional variations) from the Astra 2D satellite, except the BBC News Channel and BBC Parliament which broadcast from Astra 2A. All domestic BBC channels have been free to air since 29 July 2003. ITV also broadcast all its television channels (including regional variations of ITV1, and STV and UTV) from the Astra 2D satellite.

All ITV channels have been free to air from 1 November 2005, although some regions reverted to Free-To-View encryption in 2008 when their lease on one Astra 2D transponder could not be renewed.

Channel 4 broadcast most of its channels free to air from this satellite, including Channel 4, Channel 4+1, E4, More4 and Film4 along with their timeshift variants. All were unencrypted apart from the feeds of Channel 4, Channel 4+1, E4 and E4+1 intended for viewers in Ireland, which remain encrypted. From November 2008, Five (now Channel 5), began to transmit free to air for the first time on Astra 2D, using borrowed space on a BBC transponder, allowing the channel to join Freesat.


End of Service

With a projected lifetime of 12 years, Astra 2D was expected to leave regular operational service towards the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013 and so the Astra 1N satellite, designed for operation at Astra 19.2°E and launched in August 2011, was initially positioned at 28.2°E to temporarily replace Astra 2D until the start of service of its long-term replacement, Astra 2F, which was launched in September 2012. Astra 1N started commercial service at 28.2°E in October 2011 with transponder testing in October and November.

Channels on Astra 2D started to transfer to Astra 1N in December with Channel 5 (plus 5* and 5USA), the Channel 4 family and ITV channels all moving to the new satellite over the next two months. On February 24, 2012 the last remaining channels on Astra 2D (the BBC channels) switched off and started transmission from Astra 1N.
All services from Astra 1N were transferred to Astra 2E in February of 2014.
As of June 2014, Astra 2D remains in position at 28.2°E, though with no transponder activity.


Astra 2D Gallery




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