Tags: boeing | satellite

New Boeing Black Eye: A Satellite That May Go Boom

New Boeing Black Eye: A Satellite That May Go Boom
A satellite in orbit, though not the one in danger of exploding. (Dreamstime)

Thursday, 23 January 2020 06:24 PM

A Boeing-made satellite operated by AT&T Inc.’s DirecTV unit is in danger of exploding and needs to be moved away from an orbital zone occupied by other big communications satellites.

There’s “a significant risk” that battery cells aboard Spaceway-1 could burst, DirecTV said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission s(FCC) eeking permission to conduct an emergency operation to reduce risks of an accidental explosion.

Spaceway-1, made by Boeing Co. (BA) and launched in 2005, provides backup coverage for television viewers in Alaska. Its operations have been terminated and no customers were affected, the company said in the Jan. 19 filing with the FCC.

The agency said it granted DirecTV’s request to move the satellite to an area away from operating spacecraft known as an orbital graveyard, and to do so quickly without venting all its fuel as is usually required.

The satellite failure is another headache for the AT&T entertainment unit that has been losing subscribers and another bruise for Boeing, which is being battered by its crisis over two crashes of its 737 Max jetliner. Representatives for AT&T didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“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,” Boeing said in a statement.

An explosion could spew wreckage that damages other orbiting spacecraft. The American military tracks about 23,000 man-made objects in orbit, the FCC said in 2018 as it began examining how to mitigate space debris.

Objects greater than one centimeter in diameter can cause catastrophic damage to spacecraft, the agency said.

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A Boeing-made satellite operated by AT&T Inc.'s DirecTV unit is in danger of exploding and needs to be moved away from an orbital zone occupied by other big communications satellites.
boeing, satellite
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2020-24-23
Thursday, 23 January 2020 06:24 PM
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