Centenarial satellites



Even less than six months ago, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of Sputnik-1 , and now another satellite, which has remained in orbit all this time, Vanguard-1, is celebrating its 60th anniversary . This “grapefruit” weighing 1.46 kg and 16.5 cm in diameter was the third attempt to launch the Avangard satellite, the second American and 4th satellite in the world. And although its batteries failed in June 1958 , and he stopped transmitting signals in May 1964, there are many other old satellites in orbit that have been operating for decades and have long and very entertaining stories. They will be discussed today.

GPS SVN-23 - 25 years 2 months and 1 day




Launched on November 26, 1990 and launched into the required orbit on December 30, the GPS satellite also known as USA-66 worked in the constellation until December 2004, when it was transferred to the reserve. At that time, it had already almost doubled its warranty period (7.5 years), but in February 2008 it was decided to reintroduce it. As a result, he worked until January 25, 2016, when he was transferred to the orbit of the burial site and finally disconnected. At the time of its disconnection, a software bug caused the disconnection of all the remaining 15 GPS satellites by 13.7 microseconds.

Landsat 5 - 29 years 3 months and 4 days




The Landsat 5 satellite was the oldest Earth-exploration satellite - launched on March 1, 1984, it took more than 2.5 million images of the Earth until the end of 2012, when one of its gyroscopes failed. The satellite still had 2 more working gyroscopes, which were enough for work - but the mission leadership decided not to risk it and turn off the device. He took the last pictures on January 6, 2013, and 9 days later went into orbit of the burial. The mission of the device ended on June 5, 2013, when the device ran out of fuel and was given a command to turn off all systems.

The device was offered to be returned to Earth using the Shuttles, but for this it was necessary to leave a lot of fuel to reduce the orbit (the Shuttles could not reach its working orbit). However, in the end, it was decided to spend the rest of the fuel on extending its mission. On February 10, 2013, he entered the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-running satellite for observing the earth. It is assumed that it will enter the dense layers of the atmosphere in 2034.

IMP-8 - 32 years 11 months and 11 days




The oldest scientific satellite in Earth orbit: launched on October 26, 1973 with a planned life of 10 years, it worked until October 7, 2006 . Designed to measure the properties of the Earth’s magnetic field and the interaction of the solar wind with it, over the course of its long history, it managed to contribute to the Ulysses mission and to its main competitors in longevity - Voyagers. This device has become a source for more than a thousand scientific publications.

GOES 3 - 38 years and 13 days




The GOES 3 satellite could well take the place of the next satellite if it were not for the failure of its cameras: launched on June 16, 1978, it became the third meteorological satellite of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA ). Visible and infrared cameras were installed on the satellite to monitor clouds, wind and surface temperature on the day / night side of the Earth. The satellite was located in geosynchronous orbit, and its stabilization was carried out by rotation, so that the satellite could observe the Earth for less than 10% of all time.


1980 Saint Helens eruption by GOES 3

In 1988, his cameras were out of order, and he lost the ability to work as intended, but retained the ability to communicate with the ground. They decided not to turn off the satellite, but to change the inclination of its orbit so that it flew over the Pacific Ocean, and transferred it to the University of Hawaii in Manoa, which, through the PEACESAT program, broadcast training programs, assistance in disaster relief, medical services and several other services for residents of the Pacific Islands in 1990-1995.

In 1995, the apparatus began to run out of fuel used to maintain an accurate position and was transferred to polar orbit, where it could provide communication to the Amundsen-Scott station for 6.5 hours per day at a speed of 1 Mbit / s. In this role, he worked until June 15, 2016, when they decided to permanently disconnect him. After 14 days of maneuvering, he reached the orbit of the burial site and was finally disconnected on June 29, 2016.

ATS-3 - 39 years old




ATS-3 is one of the oldest communication satellites, and the meteorological functions performed by it in combination in geostationary orbit allowed it to set a different kind of record: the picture taken by it on November 10, 1967 (5 days after launch) only slightly lost the lead in obtaining the first color image of the Earth - they were taken by the DODGE satellite in August.



In total, for meteorological purposes, he worked for 11 years instead of the planned 3, and as a communication satellite until 2001, holding the title of the oldest satellite of this kind until 2008, when he gave this title to another satellite below.

Voyager 2 - 40 years 6 months and 21 days



With their fellow Voyager 1 (who is 26 days younger), they are the oldest satellites in continuous operation. Voyager 1 and 2 have already moved away from the Sun by 21.1 and 17.5 billion km, and continue to move away (Voyager 1 should move away from us on 1 holy day by 2027). Recently, Voyager-1 turned on its engines after 37 years and 20 days of inactivity - this was necessary in order to save some more energy required for the operation of gyroscopes. Perhaps the Voyagers will be able to maintain their performance until 2036 - thus, Voyager-2 also may reach a distance of 1 St. day in working condition, and also will stretch 59 years - thereby setting a record that is almost impossible to beat. But in general, you can write about Voyagers almost endlessly .

AMSAT-OSCAR-7 - 43 years 4 months and 2 days



The satellite on the vibrating stand
AMSAT-OSCAR-7 is the oldest communication and amateur satellite: launched on November 15, 1974, it lost batteries in 1981, and therefore it has been interrupted when the sun does not shine on its solar panels ( this happens when its orbit is in the shadow of the Earth, which happens in summer and autumn), but at the same time he himself has retained the ability to work so far. In addition to radio amateur communication, in the summer of 1982 it was also used by the Polish anti-communist movement, “Fighting Solidarity”. since since December of the previous year, in connection with the imposition of martial law, regular telephone communications began to be tapped, and ordinary amateur stations were easy to detect. The satellite continues to function and with the help of these data on frequencies and orbital parameters, you can try to detect it.

LES1 - lost for 46 years




It was one of 9 satellites of the Lincoln Experimental Satellite series designed for X-band communications experiments . Due to the failure of the upper stage, this satellite, launched on February 11, 1965, remained in a circular orbit of 2800 km instead of an elliptical orbit of 2800x15000 km, however, this did not prevent him from conducting experiments for the next 2 years. However, then communication with him was lost, and in the period from 1967 to 2013 he was silent until his radio amateur caught a signal at a frequency of 237 MHz.

Transit 5B-5 - 53 years 3 months and 4 days




It belongs to the Transit series of navigation satellites intended for the US Navy. This satellite was launched on December 13, 1964, and only 19 days later the satellite stopped responding to commands from the ground, and therefore another satellite was launched to replace it. However, despite the fact that communication with him was impossible, he also continues to transmit telemetry at a frequency of 136.65 MHz, which can be detected if desired . Due to the fact that its batteries and RITEG have not been working for a long time, communication with it is possible only when the Sun shines on it.

Russian satellites


I thought it would be interesting for everyone to find out how these world achievements correlate with what we managed to achieve. So far the numbers are not so impressive, but not even that is most depressing here, but the fact that most of our satellites are military , while there is a chronic shortage of meteorological satellites, other people's satellites are used for satellite television , and in terms of science, Russia periodically turns out to be completely without scientific satellites.



Our oldest navigation satellites are Glonass No. 716 and 717, which have been in operation for 11 years, 3 months and 23 days. Launched along with them On December 25, 2006, the 715th brother had recently failed , and the connection with the 716th had previously disappeared - but the 717th continues to work properly only with scheduled maintenance breaks (for the Parus series satellites of the Cyclone navigation system indicate a record in 12 years - but I could not find information about this satellite).



One of the oldest Russian satellites is Gonets-D1, which is part of the satellite communication system of the same name , which has worked in orbit for 20 years - From the moment of launch on February 19, 1996 until the year 2015. Of the satellites that remain in operation, the oldest are the Yamal-202 communications satellite , launched on November 24, 2003, and which has been operating for 14 years, 3 months and 20 days (the payload was made by Alcatel Space ) and the oldest is the amateur satellite RS-15, launched another December 26, 1994 - although his transmitter apparently failed, his beacon still continues to operate at a frequency of 29.3525 MHz after 23 years and 3.5 months.