Boeing has already had their fair share of controversies in recent times with the crash of its 737 Max making headlines worldwide. Now it seems as though the aviation giant has another disaster to handle with the imminent explosion of a DirectTV satellite.
The satellite, called Spaceway-1, was built by Boeing and has been orbiting Earth since 2005 at a distance of about 35,000km. It was tasked with providing high-definition television coverage to thousands of families across the US before being downgraded to a backup satellite.
In December of last year, Spaceway-1 experienced an “anomaly” which resulted in “significant and irreversible thermal damage to its batteries” according to the US Federal Communications Commissions (FCC).
Boeing-built DirecTV satellite may explode in orbit after suffering unexpected malfunction:
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) January 23, 2020
In recent months Spaceway-1 had relied on solar panels to provide it with power, however, the 25 February 2020 will see the satellite enter whats known as “eclipse season”. This means Spaceway-1 has to hover in the Earth’s shadow, forcing the satellite to make use of its onboard batteries and according to company representatives “The damaged batteries will likely explode upon activation”, putting any nearby active satellites at risk.
According to LA Times, to prevent further damage to nearby satellites, DirectTV made a request to the FCC to allow them to reposition the satellite in what’s known as the “Graveyard orbit”, located about 300km from its current orbit. Here Spaceway-1 can explode without the risk of potentially damaging functioning satellites.
According to AT&T, DirectTV’s parent company, the imminent explosion of Spaceway-1 is not too serious as it “is a backup and we do not anticipate any impacts on consumer service as we retire it.”