Intelsat 901 seen in orbit by MEV-1
|Mission duration||Planned: 13 years|
Elapsed: 19 years, 7 months, 9 days
|Launch mass||4,723.0 kilograms (10,412.4 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||9 June 2001, 06:45UTC|
|Rocket||Ariane 44L V141|
|Launch site||Centre Spatial Guyanais, ELA-2|
|Longitude||First orbital position: 67.5° W|
Current orbital position: 27.5° W
|Epoch||9 June 2001|
|Bandwidth||36 and 72 MHz|
|EIRP||C-band global beam 36 dBW|
C-band Hemi Beam 38 dBW
C-band beam zone 38 dBW
Ku-band 53 dBW Europe Spot 1
Ku-band 52 dBw Europe Spot 2
Intelsat 901 (IS-901) was the first of nine new Intelsat satellites launched in June 2001 at 342°E, providing Ku-band spot beam coverage for Europe and C-band coverage for the Atlantic Ocean region. It is capable of selectable split uplink for SNG, tailored for increased communications demands such as DTH and Internet.
On 9 October 2015, SpaceNews reported that in April 2015, the Russian satellite Olymp-K had moved to within 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) of Intelsat 901 and the nearby Intelsat 7, causing concerns of a safety-of-flight incident. Attempts by Intelsat to contact the Russian satellite operators were unsuccessful and no reason for the satellite's movement was given by the Russian government. The move sparked classified meetings within the Department of Defense and heightened suspicions that Olymp-K satellite was performing signals intelligence, or was possibly an anti-satellite weapon.
On 9 October 2019, Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1) launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Proton-M rocket. Its mission is to dock with Intelsat 901 and extend its operational lifespan by performing station-keeping for the aging satellite. Before the docking of MEV-1 and Intelsat 901, ground controllers transitioned customers off of Intelsat 901 and moved the satellite to a graveyard orbit in December 2019 so that Eutelsat 5 West B, which launched with MEV-1, could use its orbital slot.
Docking occurred on 25 February 2020 at 07:15 UTC. MEV-1 rendezvoused with Intelsat 901, reached out with mechanical fingers, and grabbed the target craft using its liquid propellant engine as a grapple point to pull the two satellites together. Over the next two months, Northrop Grumman and satellite prime contractor Space Systems/Loral performed tests on the satellites' systems before using MEV-1 to lower Intelsat 901 back to the geosynchronous arc to the 27.5° West (332.5° East) orbital slot, where it will remain for five years.
On 17 April 2020, Intelsat and Northrop Grumman announced that Intelsat 901 had officially returned to operational service on 2 April 2020 at its new orbital slot. The satellite replaces Intelsat 907, a 17-year-old satellite now four years past its design life. After five years, MEV-1 will move Intelsat 901 back to a final graveyard orbit and release it before moving to another potential client.