Spaceway-1 Battery Failure Unlikely to Repeat on Similar Satellites; According to Boeing

Spaceway-1 Battery Failure Unlikely to Repeat on Similar Satellites; According to Boeing

DirectTV, which was acquired by AT&T in 2015, is hurrying to relocate Spaceway-1 to a disposal orbit 300 kilometres above the geosynchronous arc, away from major large communications satellites, while it can still operate Spaceway-1 relying solely on power directly generated by its solar panels, bypassing the battery

Fremont, CA: Satellite manufacturer Boeing stated that the battery failure that put DirecTV’s Spaceway-1 satellite at risk of exploding has meagre chances of happening on other satellites. Spaceway-1 was the first of three virtually identical Spaceway satellites built by Boeing and launched between 2005 and 2007. Both Spaceway-1 and 2 are owned by AT&T subsidiary DirectTV, which were launched to provide direct broadcast TV services over the Americas. DirectTV spinoff Hughes Network Systems owns Spaceway-3 and uses it to provide internet connectivity to customers in North America.

“The battery malfunction occurred in the course of beyond-contract-life operation after a collection of events that have a very low likelihood of occurring on other satellites,” said Boeing spokesman Richard Esposito. “To further lessen operators’ risk, Boeing will be providing affected customers with a minor update to operating procedures that will allow them to avoid a similar malfunction going forward.” The company, however, refuses to reveal what caused the battery malfunction.

DirectTV, which was acquired by AT&T in 2015, is hurrying to relocate Spaceway-1 to a disposal orbit 300 kilometres above the geosynchronous arc, away from major large communications satellites, while it can still operate Spaceway-1 relying solely on power directly generated by its solar panels, bypassing the battery. The company, in a statement, told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission using batteries becomes essential when the satellite starts experiencing eclipses in its geostationary orbit in late February, putting the spacecraft at risk of catastrophic battery failure, if it’s not relocated and decommissioned by then.

According to AT&T spokesperson Jim Kimberly, the loss of Spaceway-1, which had operated for three years past its designed lifetime, will not affect the customers. "This satellite is a backup, and we do not anticipate any impacts on consumer service as we retire it," he said. "We are replacing it with another satellite in our fleet." Spaceway-1 was initially used to broadcast television channels, but the company decided to dedicate the satellite to provide backup capacity over Alaska in its latter years. Kimberly declined to say if DirecTV is using Spaceway-2 as the replacement.

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