Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Updated - Zombie Satellite (Galaxy 15) Threatens TV Quality

A TV communication satellite (Galaxy 15 “The Zombie Satellite”) began drifting out of control on April 5, 2010. This rogue satellite is going to pass through another satellite’s position (AMC-11) that carries TV channels. These two satellites will not collide. However, there is potential that there could be an interruption of some channels for most or all of our customers as these two satellites closely pass by each other. AMC-11 broadcasts approximately 130 TV channels covering all of the United States. This is a national issue. Any provider that receives signals from AMC-11 (including Time Warner Cable, other cable companies, and satellite companies) could be affected.

The Galaxy 15 satellite that was knocked out by a solar storm on April 5th (but is somehow still transmitting) has been slowly drifting towards the AMC 11 satellite. Since these 2 satellites operate on the same frequencies, there was expected to be interference with satellite and cable programming across the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Mexico. AMC 11 also relays HDTV programming for NBC, Discovery, Scripps, Comcast, MTV and iNDemand networks.

SES World Skies plans to maneuver its satellite, AMC 11, to match the drift of zombie satellite Galaxy 15, effectively running from the interference. That should maintain a minimum distance of separation between the two satellites.

The company will also move a new satellite, SES-1, to the opposite side of Galaxy 15, effectively flanking the zombie. This will enable customers, including several cable television networks, to leapfrog their broadcasts over any potential interruption in service. Customers will either be able to maintain services on AMC-11 during its repositioned drift, or re-point antennas to the new SES-1 in order to maintain the quality of their services.

So the signal intended to be distributed via AMC-11 for U.S. cable TV customers could experience significant interference as Galaxy 15 drifts through AMC-11's orbital slot (although one would think there would be a back-up satellite?). So if you're sitting down to watch the tube and you notice some flickering on your TV, don't start hitting your set-top box in the hope it's a glitch, the problem is actually 22,400 miles above your head.

Original Post This Article Updates