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Athena [Arianespace]

PointView Tech LLC.'s Athena satellite is an experimental low earth orbit communications satellite to test technologies for a potential constellation to provide global broadband Internet access. PointView Tech LLC. is a subsidiary of Facebook.

The 150 kg satellite is built by Maxar Technologies (formerly Space Systems/Loral, SS/L) based on their small SSL-100 bus. Athena will use E-band high-frequency millimeter-wave radio signals that promise much faster data rates. PointView expects its E-band system to get download speeds of around 10 Gbps at its ground stations, with uplink speeds topping 30 Gbps. The mission will be to determine whether such satellite communications can efficiently provide broadband access to unserved and underserved areas throughout the world.

Reportedly it is also to test a laser ground link.

Athena was launched the first Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) on a Vega launch vehicle in September 2020. The satellite was successfully placed into its intended orbit but developed increasing spin rates during its first several orbits. Through several ground interventions, the satellite spin rates have been substantially reduced, and the satellite’s attitude has been brought under control.

In July 2021 Pointview announced, that the Athena test mission has been paused indefinitely.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Experimental Communication
Operator: PointView Tech LLC.
Contractors: Maxar Technologies (formerly Space Systems/Loral (SS/L)
Equipment: E-band transponder
Configuration: SSL-100
Propulsion: None
Power: Solar arrays, batteries
Lifetime: 2 years
Mass: 138 kg
Orbit: 516 km × 524 km, 97.47°
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Athena 2020-061D 03.09.2020 Ko ELV Vega with ION-SCV 1, ESAIL, UPMSat 2, NEMO-HD, ŃuSat 6, GHGSat C1, Flock-4v 1, ..., 26, Lemur-2 112, ..., 119, SpaceBEE 10, ..., 21, FSSCat A, B, NAPA 1, TARS, EG 2, OSM 1 CICERO, DIDO 3, PICASSO, SIMBA, TRISAT, AMICal-Sat, TTÜ100

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