A so-called zombie satellite is set to fly by another operational satellite on Nov. 12 and could possibly interfere with its communications.
The malfunctioning Galaxy 15 satellite, which has been drifting eastward on a stable and predictable path around the Earth since commercial satellite services provider Intelsat lost control of it on April 5, is set to pass by the Anik F1R, a satellite that broadcasts 15 CBC channels, among others.
There are concerns about disruption of cable service of the Anik F1R because Galaxy 15 is still broadcasting TV cable broadcasting signals to Earth, potentially interfering with the Anik F1R's signals. However, Intelsat spokesperson Nick Mitsis told CBC News, "To date, the interference mitigation plans have been very good" and interference has not occurred when the Galaxy 15 passed other satellites.
Intelsat is also downplaying the risk of a collision between the two satellites. "There is no risk of a physical collision with other spacecraft that are in the path of Galaxy 15," reads a briefing on Intelsat's website.
"Satellites over North America are spaced two degrees apart while orbiting the Earth. Spacing of two degrees means they are 1,472 km or 914.6 miles apart."
The Galaxy 15 passed by another satellite, Anik F2, on Oct. 24.
The satellite is expected to lose power between Nov. 28 and Dec. 29, a timeline calculated through a careful examination of the satellite's historical telemetry and real-time telemetry, as well as radio frequency loading measurements from similar operational satellites, according to Intelsat. The calculation is imprecise due to the satellite's erratic radio frequency signals.
The Galaxy 15 was launched in October 2005. Intelsat says it hopes to recover the rogue satellite once it powers down.