Zombie Satellite Set to Wreak Havoc

Unresponsive satellite drifting into trouble
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2010 4:06 AM CDT
Updated May 11, 2010 6:00 AM CDT
Galaxy 15 has been ignoring commands from earth since a solar storm last month.   (Photo: Business Wire)

(Newser) – Telecommunications customers who suffer service problems later this month may have an unstoppable space zombie to blame. Intelsat's Galaxy 15 satellite has become a "zombiesat"—an industry term for a failed satellite—and is slowly drifting toward the orbit of other satellites while carrying a still-functioning load of communications equipment, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Unlike most zombiesats, Galaxy 15 is still functioning but has been not been responding to commands from Earth. Intelsat, in a last-ditch effort to prevent the satellite from wreaking havoc, recently tried and failed to disable it by sending radio signals strong enough to cause its equipment to completely shut down. The company is now working with other satellite operators to try to minimize disruption for the estimated 3 months until the zombiesat becomes disoriented and its solar cells lose their lock on the sun.

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