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Intelsat Loses Command of Galaxy 15 Satellite 

By Rachel Jewett | August 22, 2022

Rendering of the Galaxy 15 satellite. Photo: Intelsat

Intelsat has lost the ability to command its Galaxy 15 satellite after an anomaly caused by a space weather event. The anomaly caused the loss of commanding links, which is the signal used to fly the satellite and to receive telemetry data, an Intelsat spokeswoman told Via Satelite.

“Intelsat, working with the satellite manufacturer, has concluded that the anomaly is likely due to a lock up of both baseband electronics units triggered by space weather, i.e., solar eruptions of plasma and magnetic fields that can disrupt electronics,” the spokeswoman said. 

The satellite is operating nominally and all payload operations are nominal, but Intelsat can no longer perform station-keeping maneuvers. The satellite has begun slowly drifting East of its 133 degrees West positioning, the spokeswoman said.

The operator is working to restore its ability to command the satellite and expects customers to have service continuity until the satellite is replaced by Galaxy 33 in November 2022. Galaxy 33 is a C-band replacement satellite built by Northrop Grumman on its GEOStar platform. SpaceX is due to launch the satellite along with Galaxy 34 in October. 

Intelsat previously lost control of the satellite in 2010 but was able to reboot the satellite and restore control later that year. 

Intelsat contracted Orbital Sciences Corp. (which eventually folded into Northrop Grumman through a series of mergers and acquisitions) back in 2001 to build Galaxy 15. The satellite was based around the GEOStar-2 satellite bus.