Mission typeCommunications
OperatorSpace Communications Corporation
COSPAR ID1990-F01 [1]
Mission duration10 years (planned)
Failed to orbit
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeSuperbird
BusSSL 1300
ManufacturerFord Aerospace
Launch mass2,492 kg (5,494 lb)
DimensionsStowed: 2.41 m × 2.58 m × 2.20 m (7 ft 11 in × 8 ft 6 in × 7 ft 3 in)
Solar panels extended: 20.3 m (67 ft)
Power4 kW
Start of mission
Launch date22 February 1990, 23:17:00 UTC[1]
Launch siteCentre Spatial Guyanais, ELA-2
Entered serviceFailed to orbit
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit (planned)
RegimeGeostationary orbit
Longitude162° East
Band23 Ku-band
3 Ka-band
2 X-band
Coverage areaJapan

Superbird-2, also identified as Superbird-B after launch if successful, was a geostationary communications satellite designed and manufactured by Ford Aerospace on the SSL 1300 satellite bus. It was originally ordered by Space Communications Corporation (SCC), which later merged into the SKY Perfect JSAT Group.[2] It had a mixed Ku-band, Ka-band and X-band payload and was lost at launch.[3]

It was ordered in 1985 along Superbird-A, Superbird-A1 and Superbird-B1 on the very first order of the SSL 1300 platform.[4][5][6][3] It was to be the second satellite of SCC.[3] It was supposed to be used for video distribution, news gathering, remote publishing and high definition TV service to the main islands of Japan and Okinawa from the 162° East position.[2]

Satellite description

The spacecraft was the second satellite designed and manufactured by Ford Aerospace on the SSL 1300 satellite bus. It was based on the design of the Intelsat V series and offered a three-axis stabilized platform.[4][5][6][3]

It had a launch mass of 2,492 kg (5,494 lb) and a 10-year design life.[1] When stowed for launch, its dimensions were 2.41 m × 2.58 m × 2.20 m (7 ft 11 in × 8 ft 6 in × 7 ft 3 in). With its solar panels fully extended it spanned 20.3 m (67 ft). Its power system generated approximately 4 kW of power due to two wings with three solar panels each.[3] It also had dual NiH2 battery to survive the solar eclipses. It was supposed to serve as the main satellite on the 162° East position of the Superbird fleet.[3]

Its propulsion system included an R-4D-11 liquid apogee engine (LAE) with a thrust of 490 N (110 lbf).[3] It included enough propellant for orbit circularization and 10 years of operation.[3]


Space Communications Corporation (SCC) was founded in 1985, the same year as the original companies that later formed JSAT.[7] In 1986, SCC ordered four spacecraft from Space Systems/Loral: Superbird-1, Superbird-2, Superbird-A1 and Superbird-B1.[5]

On 22 February 1990, at 23:17:00 UTC, Superbird-2 was launched aboard an Ariane 44L along with BS-2X.[3] At 100 seconds into the flight, the flight failed due to a red handkerchief that blocked a water line in one of the Viking engines of the first stage.[8] Both satellites were lost, and Superbird-B1 was rushed into launch.[1][3][9]


  1. ^ a b c d Wade, Mark. "Ariane 44L". Encyclopaedia Astronautica. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Superbird-1, -2". SSL. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Krebs, Gunter Dirk (18 August 2016). "Superbird A, A1, B, B1". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Industry Pioneer Marks Milestone, Continues to Lead in Providing High-Power Commercial Satellites, Helping Operators Meet Business Objectives". SSL. 17 July 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Awards & Launch History - 1300 Bus Satellites". SSL. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Celebrating Fifty Years of Satellite Innovation". SSL. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  7. ^ "History". SKY Perfect JSAT Holdings Inc. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  8. ^ Castanos, Francis (7 December 2020). "The cloth of doom: The weird, doomed ride of Ariane Flight 36". The Space Review. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Superbird". Global Security. Retrieved 28 July 2016.