A 15-year-old DirectTV satellite might explode in space because of a battery malfunction, and if it does, it could take other satellites down with it. DirecTV requested temporary authority from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Sunday to conduct an emergency operation that would reduce the risk of the satellite exploding. The Boeing-made satellite is currently situated in the geostationary arc, which is home to many communications satellites. “DirectTV’s emergency operations are in response to the extraordinary and unforeseen anomaly on Spaceway-1 and will reduce the potential for harm to other geostationary satellite operators,” the filing reads. The satellite was recently being used as a backup for Ka-band capacity over Alaska, according to Space News. However, the Spaceway-1’s batteries suffered “significant and irreversible thermal damage” in December. DirecTV asked the FCC to give them 30 days to decommission of the satellite’s remaining fuel before it explodes. To do this, it will take about 21 days to reach a disposal orbit to discharge its remaining bipropellant and then about seven days for “venting operations” before Spaceway-1 can be decommissioned. Satellites are required by the FCC to vent fuel before they move into what’s known as the “graveyard orbit.” According to the… Read full this story
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