SES World Skies has said it plans an intricate set of orbital manoeuvres later this month aimed at steering its AMC-11 satellite clear of interference from Intelsat’s troubled Galaxy 15 spacecraft, referred to in recent media coverage as the “Zombie” satellite.
As the stray satellite nears AMC-11’s orbital location at 131 degrees West, SES World Skies plans to have AMC-11 match the eastward drift of Galaxy 15 in order to maintain a minimum separation between the two satellites. This synchronized drift is designed to protect AMC-11 services from interference caused by Galaxy 15.
At the same time, SES World Skies will move its new SES-1 satellite to the opposite side of Galaxy 15, thereby enabling some customers, including cable television networks, to leapfrog their broadcasts over interference caused by the wandering spacecraft. Customers will either be able to maintain services on AMC-11 during its drift, or repoint antennas to SES-1 in order to best protect their services.
For those customers who will stay on AMC-11 throughout the mission, their television programming will be delivered over a large 19-metre antenna capable of minimizing potential disruptions. SES World Skies expects to initiate the synchronized eastwards drift of AMC-11 on May 25, and estimates that the risk of interference will end on June 7 when Galaxy 15 exits the area about 22,000 miles above the earth’s surface.
“This extraordinary technical initiative underscores our commitment to finding innovative solutions to minimize the impact of an unexpected event like this on our customers,” said Alan Young, CTO for SES World Skies, in a statement. “A team of our best engineers and scientists is working around the clock to ensure the success of this unprecedented mission.” Young also noted that the company has been in regular close contact with its customers in order to brief them on the operation and prepare them for the necessary maneuvers.