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PARIS — An Intelsat satellite that stopped communicating with its ground controllers April 5 remains out of control and has begun moving eastward along the geostationary arc, raising the threat of interference with other satellites in its path, Intelsat and other industry officials said.
In what industry officials said is an unprecedented event, Intelsat’s Galaxy 15 satellite has remained fully “on,” with its C-band telecommunications payload still functioning even as it has left its assigned orbital slot of 133 degrees west longitude 36,000 kilometers over the equator.
The first satellite likely to face signal interference problems is the AMC-11 C-band satellite owned by SES of Luxembourg and stationed at 131 degrees west, just two degrees away from Galaxy 15’s starting position.
Rob Bednarek, chief executive of the SES World Skies division, which operates AMC-11, said Intelsat and SES have been meeting since April 5 to coordinate how to minimize the Galaxy 15 impact on AMC-11’s media customers.
On May 3, Intelsat will play what as of April 30 appeared to be its last card by blasting Galaxy 15 with a more powerful signal intended not to salvage the satellite, but to force it into a complete shutdown. That attempt will last about 30 minutes. It will not be repeated, both because a second attempt is viewed as unnecessary...
Even if the May 3 action succeeds, Galaxy 15 will remain a problem as it continues to wander the geostationary arc. But it is a problem that satellite operators know how to deal with.