DirecTV, a satellite broadcasting service, reported that there was a risk of explosion when a battery mounted on the communication satellite Spaceway-1, which had been operating for 15 years, failed. Currently, DirecTV is trying to move the satellite into a so-called "graveyard orbit," about 300 km away from geosynchronous orbit. Spaceway-1 usually runs on electricity from solar panels. But it also has a battery to provide the necessary power in case the earth is between the sun and the satellite, or in the shade. Reports say that some sort of satellite anomaly that occurred in December caused the battery to be "serious and irreparable thermal damage."
For this reason, if it is switched to battery power, it may develop into a "catastrophic obstacle". The next time Spaceway-1 enters the shade is February 25, DirecTV will have to remove the satellite from orbit and move to graveyard orbit by this date.
However, it has one major problem. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreement, when a satellite is abolished or destroyed, all fuel (propellant) on board the aircraft is discharged. This is to avoid the risk of the remaining fuel exploding at some point. However, Spaceway-1 has about 73kg of fuel (available until 2025), and it is considered impossible to exhaust it in the remaining days. In the past, it took 2-3 months for a similar satellite to exhaust its fuel.
DirecTV was compelled to demand a complete fuel emission waiver before the satellite was abolished. As long as the satellites explode at least in graveyard orbit, there should be no harm to satellites operating in geostationary orbit.
Fortunately, Spaceway-1 is a backup satellite, and once it has completed its role, there is no direct impact on the service itself. However, DirecTV is evaluating whether there is a satellite that can be used as a backup instead of preparing for the disposal of Spaceway-1.
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