Superbird 6

Launch Time
Fri Apr 16, 2004 00:45 UTC


Atlas IIAS
Image Credit: USAF or NASA
Status: Retired
Liftoff Thrust: 2,957 kN
Payload to LEO: 8,618 kg
Payload to GTO: 3,933 kg
Stages: 2
Strap-ons: 4
Rocket Height: 47.5 m

Mission Details

Superbird 6

Superbird-A2, known as Superbird-6 before launch, was a geostationary communications satellite ordered and operated by Space Communications Corporation (SCC) that was designed and manufactured by Hughes (now Boeing) on the BSS-601 satellite bus. It had a mixed Ku-band and Ka-band payload and was expected to replace Superbird-A at the position at 158° East longitude. It was expected to provide television signals and business communications services throughout Japan, South Asia, East Asia, and Hawaii.

While the launch was within the margins specified by the satellite manufacturer, the trajectory analysis had been inexact and the satellite suffered severe life and power degradation. It tried to use a supersynchronous transfer strategy, but Boeing had failed to take into consideration the effect of the Moon. Thus, the lowest part of the orbit dropped too fast and much propellant had to be spent on a fast transit to geosynchronous orbit. Additionally, the solar panels suffered damage from extreme contact with the atmosphere. Given the damage to the spacecraft, it was never put into service.

Payloads: 1
Total Mass: 3,100.0 kg
Geostationary Transfer Orbit


SLC-36A, Cape Canaveral SFS, Florida, USA



11th orbital launch attempt

Atlas II

61st mission
2nd mission of 2004
61st successful mission