Good Zombiesat…good zombiesat

Posted: January 29, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , , ,

From AW&ST regarding the spacecraft formerly known as zombiesat.

Intelsat appears poised to recoup use of Galaxy 15, the wayward “Zombie Sat” that terrorized telecom satellite neighborhoods around the globe until it was brought under control late last month.

What was the problem? 

Of the 120 potential root causes identified, only two remain. Solar flares, the long-rumored culprit, are not one of them. OSC plans to issue a final failure review report in February.

Zombiesat…Intelsat says engineers are focusing on firmware in the baseband equipment (BBE) command unit as the source of the Galaxy 15 incident…

Enhancements include a modified emergency command channel, using a fully independent communications path, that permits the spacecraft to be commanded and operated if the BBE command malfunctions, a patch that turns off the payload automatically if no commands are received for 21 days, and a patch to reset the BBE if no commands are received for 14 days.

I’m waiting to hear someone hacked into Intelsat’s command and control structure and took it over.  You know, Stuxnet and all that.  Wait…that wouldn’t be in the report…that would only appear in the New York Times, Guardian, or Der Spiegel.  Assange, put yourself to good use (and remember you still can’t spell Assange without beginning with a-s-s) here, provided it’s ok with your bondsman. 

Galaxy 15 arrived at 93 deg. W. Long. on Jan. 15 for a complete checkout, including validation of three control-and-command software patches uploaded in December to ensure the incident does not recur. According to tests run so far, says Toby Nassif, Intelsat’s vice president for satellite operations and engineering, the spacecraft’s bus, subsystems, main C-band payload and WAAS L-band transponder are fully operational.

Yes, patches, I’m depending on you son, as Clarence Carter would say.  Check out more about the WAAS, a GPS augmentation for aviation here.

If the satellite receives a clean bill of health, Nassif says, it could be available for in-orbit backup services as early as Jan. 31 as it is begins its drift eastward either to 129 or 133 deg. W. Long., its original position. Launched in 2005, Galaxy has more than 10 years of revenue potential left, and its return to service would obviate the need for acquiring a replacement, though much of its book value has been written down.

Galaxy 15’s recovery is a bonus for the FAA who

…will be able to curtail a new procurement, dubbed Stop Gap GEO, it had initiated after the satellite lost control. Because of the 3-4-year lead time needed to purchase a new transponder, the FAA typically maintains a fleet of three transponders for WAAS service.

Use of the service is increasingly important as the fleet of aircraft equipped to use it gradually ramps up. According to Eldredge, the FAA has more than 2,341 published LPV procedures—twice the number of legacy instrument landing systems—and more than 50,000 aircraft carry WAAS receivers. Most users are in the general aviation category, but helicopters are increasingly adopting WAAS and more than 50 air transport types have been approved, or are near approval, making it likely service will grow over the next few years.

Space: it’s baked-in to just about everything we do.  In the meantime, enjoy the software patches.

  In the

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