DirecTV is now racing to remove a satellite from Earth's orbit because if the company waits too long the satellite could explode and turn into dangerous space junk.
In a report from Space News, DirecTV has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a temporary rules waiver so the company can bring down the Spaceway-1 satellite. In the FCC filing from DirecTV, the company explains why the spacecraft needs to be taken down immediately, here's a snippet of what was said; "In December, Spaceway-1 suffered a major anomaly that resulted in significant and irreversible thermal damage to its batteries.
The report continued, "Boeing, the spacecraft manufacturer, concluded based on all available data that the batteries' cells cannot be guaranteed to withstand the pressures needed to support safe operation of the spacecraft in eclipse operations; rather, there is a significant risk that these battery cells could burst. The risk of a catastrophic battery failure makes it urgent that Spaceway-1 be fully de-orbited and decommissioned prior to the February 25th start of eclipse season."
At the moment DirecTV has disabled the satellites primary function, but due to the batteries suffering a failure the company is worried that during the upcoming eclipse season that they could explode when initiated into use. There is guidelines for de-orbiting a satellite, and usually the craft would complete its end-of-life maneuvers and then discharge all remaining bipropellant. In this specific case of Spaceway-1, DirecTV is asking for a waiver of the rules and an immediate decommission of the satellite.
"Delayed de-orbit maneuvers or prolonged propellant depletion strategies are not possible given the heightened likelihood of catastrophic failure of the Spaceway-1 satellite should the damaged battery be recharged".
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