Launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Sunday at 18:56 GMT new Russian remote sensing satellite by TsSKB Progress, Resurs-P3 suffers problem with full deployment of solar panels necessary for using full potential of satellite.
Yesterday after launch everything seemed to work correctly. Satellite reached designated orbit what was confirmed by Joint Space Operations Center (274 km x 460 km with inclination at 97.29°). As soon as satellite reached planned position it should start to deploy solar arrays to charge onboard battery and start planned self-tests and transmit general status report to ground control station. Unfortunately one of the arrays stayed closed in spite of correct opening locks which were keeping arrays in closed position during flight to orbit. Of course even with one array satellite is able to work, but with certain limitations. Without enough energy for recharging onboard battery used for operating during being out of daylight zone, satellite will not be able to start all onboard devices; it could simply drain onboard battery and caused switching off whole satellite. At the present moment engineers from ground control center, hope that during next orbit-raising maneuver vibrations generated from 2.94 kN thruster will help to free stacked solar array. If this solution will fail satellite will remain not fully operational.
As Resurs-P3 main remote sensing equipment, Geoton-L1 high resolution telescope, put satellite in to the first league of remote sensing satellites but satellite bus utilized for Resurs-P3 is not most modern available on market. It is Yantar satellite bus which was developed in the second half of the sixties for Soviet military. First satellite based on Yantar bus was launched in 1974. Platform was created for film-return imaging satellites; they were utilized by Russian military extensively before acquiring technology of digital imaging and downlink data to ground control stations. Yantar was modernized couple times to meet demands of new technology but first real serious changes were made in 2006 by TsSKB Progress when Resurs-DK was created. It was commercial remote imaging satellite operating with high resolution (0.9 m) equipment, three-axis stabilization and extended operational life to five years and downlink speed up to 300 MBit/s. In spite of avionics, transponders and power control multiple mechanisms remain unchanged. It is possible that whole construction of solar panels could remain not changed due the cost cutting. From pictures and ground presentations it is known that arrays are designed to be deployed from position along satellite and next they are unfolding with special mechanism - it looks just like on old pictures of Yantar based satellites. Probably during first phase of deploying something gone wrong and mechanism stacked; minor damage also could occur during flight after payload fairing was jettisoned - mechanism of the arrays remains without any fairing and could be easily damaged by pieces of jettisoned fairing. Probably during next few days Resurs-P3 status will be announced and Roscosmos Corporation will decide about future of satellite.