'Zombie satellite' finally reboots itself

Dec. 29, 2010 at 7:31 PM   |   Comments

LUXEMBOURG, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- A "zombie satellite" adrift in orbit has come back to life, resetting itself after an unexplained breakdown in space this year, its European controllers say.

When the flight center of owner Intelsat lost the ability to control the Galaxy 15 communications satellite in April, its broadcast package remained in operation, transmitting signals, posing a risk of interfering with the signals of neighboring satellites, SPACE.com reported.

In the succeeding months Intelsat worked with operators of other broadcast satellites to ensure that their communications services, including television broadcasts, were not affected whenever Galaxy 15 drifted by.

Finally, on Dec. 23, Galaxy 15's battery, which relied on solar panels pointed at the sun to generate power, completely drained, Intelsat officials said.

Once that happened, the satellite reset itself as designed and began accepting commands from Intelsat's control center.

"We have placed Galaxy 15 in safe mode, and at this time, we are pleased to report it no longer poses any threat of satellite interference to either neighboring satellites or customer services," Intelsat officials said.

With Galaxy 15 now accepting commands from Earth, there is a possibility it could be made fully functional again, they said.

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