Astro-H lost communication with ground control center

Recently launched Japanese X-ray observation satellite lost communication with Earth on 26 March 2016 and its state is unknown.

JAXA first bitter pill in 2016 - their hi-tech X-ray observation satellite designed for deep space observation seemed to not work as it was planned. Astro-H was launched on February 17, 2016 on atop H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima Space Center lost communication with ground control center. Satellite was just about before starting its mission for real - ground control center planned start of the observation for 07:40 GMT on 26 March 2016. Satellite managed only to send short radio signal and stopped operating. Various attempts of bringing back data transfer performed by all ground stations assigned to mission did not give positive results. Uchinoura Space Center and Katsuura ground station are still performing attempts to communicate with satellite on X band (8 GHz) and S band (2 GHz) which were designed as telemetry/command transmission frequencies. Astro-H flies around Earth every 96 minutes, so it goes around 15 times during 24 h; it remains in daylight zone for 16 h and is flying over Japan 5 times in every 24 h. Ground stations have 10 minutes for communication during every pass. JAXA announced that it will try to connect with Astro-H during next days and investigate for reasons of the problem.

Last test of the satellite was performed during preparing for mission start, shortly after launch, at 29 February 2016. JAXA informed then about successful turning on cooling system of the X-ray telescope (which is cooled to minus 273.1° C), test of Soft X-ray Spectrometer and extending the Extensible Optical Bench. Everything went as it was planned and nothing pointed that satellite has any problems. Telemetry data and self-tests were correct.

On picture above You can see artistic vision of Astro-H.

Sources:
http://global.jaxa.jp/press/2016/03/20160327_hitomi.html
http://global.jaxa.jp/press/2016/02/20160229_hitomi.html

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