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Monday, 15 March 2021 11:02

MARECS B2 - historical personal memories.

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Sharing some amazing historical personal moments in my space career.

In 1984, 37 years ago, I was a new and very young EMC engineer just starting work at Marconi Space System in Portsmouth, UK.  My first experience in those heady days of new pioneering space applications was with the INMARSAT MARECS-B2 (Maritime European Communications satellite).

Earlier in the year at the launch site at Kourou in French Guiana, during pre-flight EGSE checkout an RF spike was detected on the payload bus near OBC clock frequencies.  It was not repeatable, but it was sufficiently worrisome to cause the launch to be delayed and the flight model to be shipped back to Portsmouth, UK for EMC checks.

In our newly built EMC anechoic chamber at Marconi Space System Ltd (now Airbus Defence & Space), which was large enough to contain the entire spacecraft, we set about attempting to repeat and locate the source of the interference.

Despite using every standard EMC emission and susceptibility test we could come up with, nothing was found.  So, under satellite nominal EGSE operating conditions we tried one last test, we built a dipole antenna tuned to the exact frequency of the previous detected spike using copper wire wrapped along an empty BIC pen case attached to a spectrum analyser.  Dressed in my cleanroom attire, I positioned myself inside the spacecraft, while scanning my handmade antenna detector around the payload communications subsystems.

The anomalous spike was never found and never repeated.  The satellite was reshipped back to Guyana and successfully launched on the 10th November 1984 and remained in operation until 1991 and then used experimentally by ESA until decommissioned in 1996.

Please share your own memorable events in your space career in reply.

Read 437 times Last modified on Monday, 15 March 2021 11:08
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