Saturday, April 9, 2011

"It's alive!" Zombie satellite Galaxy 15 springs back to life, 01.04.11

Creators of Galaxy 15 have reported that the rebellious satellite-gone-rogue has reset itself and is now responding to commands from Earth.

Thronateeska Heritage Center reported on October 22 that Intelsat, a satellite command center, had lost control of a fairly young satellite. Investigation is still underway to determine what caused the satellite to cease responding to commands in the first place, although Orbital Sciences Corp. of Virginia now claims an intense solar storm may be to blame.

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Intelsat had program the satellite to automatically reset when its battery life drained, whereby causing communication lines to be restored. The satellite, which operates from a solar-powered battery, however, was using its programming “against” the programmers! It actually adjusted its power consumption levels so that it was using less power while not in the light of the sun, thereby extending its rogue lifespan considerably. This caused many headaches for Intelsat as the satellite was continuing to transmit signals, with no control capable of being placed on it. Intelsat had to work closely with television and radio companies to ensure that Galaxy 15’s transmissions would not interfere with their regular programming as it drifted by uncontrolled, and many intricate maneuvers had to be performed by other satellites to prevent their collision with the temporarily self-piloting satellite out on a joy ride.

Intelsat has reported the battery on Galaxy 15 has finally “died,” though, and the satellite has reset its operating system and restored communications as its designers had hoped would happen when they originally lost control of the satellite last April. 

The satellite, launched October 13, 2005 from an European Ariane rocket, was originally intended to serve until 2020. Needless to say, the recent “rebellion” of the satellite and curious technical behavior it exhibited are causing scientists to re-assess its shelf life and determine what course of action needs to be pursued. Galaxy 15 is currently on a course to rendezvous with an Intelsat orbital location to have its payload assessed and to determine if it is capable of being restored to full functionality.


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