Astra 23.5°E is a group of Astra communications satellites co-located at the 23.5° east position in the Clarke Belt owned and operated by SES based in Betzdorf, Luxembourg. 23.5° east is one of the major TV satellite positions serving Europe (the others being at 19.2° East, 13° East, 28.2° East, and 5° East).
The satellite currently occupying this position is the Astra 3B craft, which provide for services downlinking in the 10.70 GHz-12.70 GHz range of the Ku band and 21.40-22.00 GHz range of the Ka band across most of Central, Western and Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
A major reason for the usage of Astra 23.5°E as a source for direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting is its proximity to Europe’s primary DTH position, Astra 19.2°E, allowing the use in target countries of a single small dish fitted with a monoblock Duo LNB to receive channels from both positions.
Satellite craft in use
- Astra 3A
- Astra 1D
- Astra 1E
- Astra 1G
- Thor 2
- DFS-Kopernikus 1 (operated by Deutsche Telekom)
- DFS-Kopernikus 3 (operated by Deutsche Telekom)
Astra 23.5°E is a major source of TV and radio channels and multimedia services for parts of Europe. While the satellite Astra 3B can reach most parts of the continent, this position is primarily used for channels broadcast to the countries of Northwestern, Central and Eastern Europe, in particular: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, and Slovakia.
A service of local, regional and ethnic channels for Italy is expected from this orbital position following an agreement in November 2009 between SES and Milano Teleport to offer capacity to Italian broadcasters.
TV channels for (DTH) networks, Canal Digitaal (Netherlands), TV Vlaanderen (Belgium, Flanders), CS Link (Slovakia and Czech Republic), Skylink (Slovakia and Czech Republic) and Satellite BG (Bulgaria), broadcast from this position. In all, over 390 TV and radio channels are broadcast from Astra 23.5°E to almost 2.5 million homes in Europe.
In January 2011 Astra announced that Bulgarian DTH operator Satellite BG would use three transponders on Astra 3B at 23.5°E for broadcasting a package of more than 60 standard definition channels and 12 high definition channels, including sports, film, factual and children’s TV, and all major Bulgarian public and commercial services to TV homes across Bulgaria.
The Astra 23.5°E position is also home to Astra Connect (was ASTRA2Connect), a two-way satellite broadband service that delivers high-speed Internet access and triple-play capabilities to consumers in Europe.
The 23.5° east orbital position was first occupied by the DFS-Kopernikus 1 and DFS-Kopernikus 3 satellites, launched in June 1989 and October 1992, respectively, to provide channel feeds to German cable headends for Deutsche Bundespost (later, Deutsche Telekom). DFS-Kopernikus 1 was first positioned at 23.5° east and then moved to 33.5° east with the launch of DFS-Kopernikus 3. As DFS-Kopernikus 3 neared the end of its life, an agreement was reached with Deutsche Telekom for SES to use the German position and frequencies, and in August 2001, Astra 1D was moved to 23.5° east to provide follow-on capacity for DFS-Kopernikus F3 pending the launch of Astra 3A.
Astra 3A was launched in March 2002 to open the Astra 23.5°E position, and Deutsche Telekom contracted for 10 transponders, with all traffic on the old DFS-Kopernikus craft switched to Astra 3A.
With the establishment of Astra 1L at the Astra 19.2°E position in July 2007, Astra 1E was released from 19.2° east and moved to Astra 23.5°E to replace Astra 1D, which was approaching the end of its design life.
A new satellite, Astra 3B, was originally scheduled to be launched to Astra 23.5°E in the first quarter of 2010, to replace all the capacity currently at this orbital position, but was beset by launcher delays, postponed on the launch pad on March 24, 2010 and April 9, 2010 for a faulty pressure regulator in the Ariane 5 rocket's main stage. Astra 3B was finally successfully launched on May 21, 2010. and came into commercial service in June, after in-orbit testing, when Astra 1E and Astra 1G were released from service. In July 2010, Astra 1G was moved from Astra 23.5°E to Astra 31.5°E. Astra 1E remained at this position a little longer with no transponders in use, but in August 2010 it was moved westwards to Astra 5°E to provide backup for Astra 4A pending the launch of Astra 4B to that position in 2011.
In April 2011 the Thor 2 satellite moved to 23.5°E in an inclined orbit. Thor 2 was originally launched to 0.8°W on May 21, 1997 and retired from DTH service in 2008. It was leased from owners, Telenor by SES-Astra in 2008 and initially moved to the 5°E orbital position. In 2011 Thor 2 had only two active transponders, both carrying the channel, RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg. In January 2013 the Thor 2 de-orbited to the graveyard orbit.
In November 2013, Astra 3A moved to 177°W to provide backup to SES' NSS-9 satellite.
- Astra 5°E
- Astra 19.2°E
- Astra 28.2°E
- Astra 31.5°E
- SES satellite owner
- Duo LNB
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- "Quality is focus of Arianespace following Ariane 5's launch postponement" (Press release). Arianespace. April 14, 2010. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
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- "Astra 1E at 4.6°E". LyngSat. Archived from the original on 25 August 2010. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
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- Astra 1D in SES fleet information Accessed June 30, 2013
- N2YO real time satellite tracking Accessed June 30, 2013
- Real Time Satellite Tracking And Predictions Accessed 31 March 2014
- SES guide to receiving Astra satellites
- SES guide to channels broadcasting on Astra satellites
- SES fleet information and map
- OnAstra - Official Astra consumers/viewers' site
- SES - Official SES trade/industry site
- SES HDTV website
- Astra Connect website
- Astra 23.5°E at Lyngsat