The European Space Agency has been battling to save face after the launch of its most sophisticated navigation and mobile communications satellite went wrong, sending Artemis into an unplanned orbit that would prevent its vehicle satellite navigation -related technology from working properly.

After take-off last week, a malfunction developed within the upper stage of the Ariane 5 launcher, stranding Artemis "in a lower than expected orbit," said ESA.

As a result, controllers of the spacecraft in French Guyana have put the satellite into a safe sun-pointing position, while remedial work is carried out to reposition the satellite with booster engines.

Artemis has had $US850 million lavished upon it, so that it would provide sophisticated communications and global positioning navigations services, especially to transport operations.

Other key uses will entail the relaying of mobile sat-comms between moving units, such as cars and boats, in remote mountainous and island areas and also on the Atlantic.

Said project manager Gotthard Oppenhäuser: "The chemical fuel on board the spacecraft can be used to raise its orbit and it remains under control while the ground-staff work out the best way to use this fuel."

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