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Olympus F1

Olympus F1 [ESA]

The last Ariane-3 lofted the European communications technology demonstration satellite, Olympus F1 (originally named L-Sat 1), into transfer orbit. It carried four communications payloads introducing new satellite services and techniques to European users.

  • A powerful Ku-band direct broadcast system (EIRP is 62.5 dBW) offered one channel for Italian TV and one for international programming throughout Europe; both transmit as 12 GHz, signals can be received on 45 cm ground antennas.
  • A 12/14 GHz Ku-band specialized services payload accomodated switching and frequency reuse experiments, videoconferencing and data distribution.
  • A 20/30 GHz Ka-band payload offered point-to-point and multipoint videoconferencing, tele-eduction and low-speed data handling.
  • A 12/20/30 GHz package performed propagation research.

Built by British Aerospace for ESA, Olympus 1 measured 2.9 by 2.7 by 5.5 m. Solar arrays, spanning 25.6 m, provided 3.6 kW of power. It had a 5-year design life. The Olympus bus was designed to handle double the power, mass and service life requirements on future missions. A single burn of its bipropellant liquid apogee engine gave the satellite a soft ride towards its assigned station at 19 deg. w, where it arrived on August 3.

In January 1991 the south solar panel stopped tracking the sun, which reduced available power to about 1.8 kW. On 29. May 1991 a problem with an attitude control appeared and due to some incorrect commands to correct the problem uplinked from Fucino Earth Station Italy the satellite started tumbling, and drifted off station. Finally on 19. June 1992 the Darmstadt Control Centre regained control of Olympus, but not before the satellite had completely drifted around the Earth. The manoevers used up a lot of the station keeping fuel, but Olympus was put back into service at 19W on 7. August 1992.

On 12. August 1993, control was lost again after an impact with a meteor from the annual Perseid meteor shower. Olympus started spinning. The attempt to stabilize the craft used up most of the remaining propellant, leaving an insufficient ammount for further operation. With the remaining fuel, Olympus was sent to a graveyard orbit and finally decomissioned on 12. August 1993.

Nation: International
Type / Application: Communication, experimental
Operator: ESA
Contractors: British Aerospace BAe (prime); Alenia Spazio, Marconi Space and Alcatel-Bell (payloads)
Equipment: 2 Ku-band BSS transponder, 4 Ku-band SMS-transponders, 2 Ka-band transponders, Ku-/Ka-band propagation beacon
Configuration: L-Sat Bus
Propulsion: R-4D-12
Power: 2 deployable solar arrays, batteries
Lifetime: 5 years
Mass: 2595 kg
Orbit: 33304 km × 36113 km, 0.2 GEO
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Olympus F1 (ex L-SAT 1) 1989-053A 12.07.1989 Ko ELA-1 Ariane-3


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