by Jonathan Amos

The “dead-but-alive” telecommunications satellite, Galaxy-15, has begun to enter the space of neighbouring craft, and their operators are planning evasive action.

Galaxy 15“Zombie-sat” has captured the imagination of the internet space forums these past few weeks. It’s probably the nickname that’s done it.

When we sit on the sofa skipping across the smorgasbord of channels with our remote-controls, we don’t usually give much thought to the “bent pipes” that sit 36,000km above our heads, delivering the televisual feast.

Intelsat’s Galaxy-15 satellite was put in geostationary orbit five years ago to re-distribute TV services to cable companies across North America, and also to send navigation data to aeroplanes to improve the accuracy of their GPS receivers.

But the “bird” experienced a major hiccup at the beginning of April.

It’s not known precisely what happened. One possibility is that it was damaged by high-speed particles billowing off the Sun in a solar storm – an ever-present danger for orbiting electronics.

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