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Galaxy 15 Cable Satellite Has Failed

Last Thursday Intelsat reported that Galaxy 15 customers would be moved to Galaxy 12 following an anomaly on Galaxy 15. The company did not give any information on the anomaly, saying only "There has been no immediate service interruption to customers, and based on current technical information, no service interruption is expected for the media customers on this satellite. All media traffic on this satellite is planned to be transitioned to Intelsat's Galaxy 12 satellite..."

Other reports, however, showed this anomaly was quite serious. Space News reported "Intelsat Loses Contact with Galaxy 15 Satellite." Cable TV networks USA, SyFy, Oxygen, ESPN, Fox Sports, TBS, CNN and others use this satellite for at least some of their cable feeds.

Cable companies aren't the only ones impacted by this. Galaxy 15 provides the wide area augmentation service (WAAS) for GPS. In "Failure Imminent for WAAS GEO Satellite," GPS World noted however, that the loss of Galaxy 15 will disrupt WAAS only in parts of Alaska. The rest of the United States, however, will still have service from another more centrally located satellite, although without backup.

If Intelsat has indeed lost all control of Galaxy 15, this would imply there is a possibility the satellite at some point could drift enough to approach other satellites and cause interference if its transponders are still operating. I'm sure the Intelsat engineers have some ideas on how to prevent that from happening. I'll be monitoring this over the next few weeks as traffic is moved to Galaxy 12. I welcome any reports from readers with dishes pointed at Galaxy 15. Please drop me a note if you see anything interesting.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.