Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic October 11, 2010 - 11:50 am

“Zombiesat” threatens Arctic telecommunications

Northwestel eyes out-of-control Galaxy 15 satellite

NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Northwestel is keeping an anxious eye on the skies as the satellite it uses to serve Nunavut passes near another satellite.

The orbits of the Anik F2, which carries Northwestel’s satellite traffic, and Galaxy 15, owned by the American satellite provider Intelsat, will track near one another between Oct. 20 and Oct. 25, Northwestel said in a news release Oct. 8.

“This is an extremely rare situation and has the potential to cause long distance and data service interruptions for customers,” the release stated.

Galaxy 15 is a so-called “zombiesat” that hasn’t responded to commands from its owner since April, according to the online news site spaceflightnow.com, which also reports there’s no risk of a collision with other satellites.

The website reported that Galaxy 15 could interfere with Anik F2, because it’s still blaring out C-band frequencies, the same band used by Anik F2. Galaxy 15 has already flown by six other North American satellites.

Intelsat spokesman Nick Mitsis told spaceflightnow.com that the company has so far been able to avoid any major service disruptions.

“We have a team of engineers that have become experts at turning traffic and implementing a number of other in-flight tricks to avoid interference,” Mitsis told the website.

Northwestel said it’s working with Telesat Canada, Anik’s owner, to avoid service interruptions, but is setting up plans with emergency measures organizations in Nunavut and parts of the Northwest Territories and Yukon just in case.

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