Rogue satellite could kill cable programming

Satellite that lost contact with its control center could enter the orbit of another satellite that delivers cable programming to U.S., AP reports.

An out-of-control satellite is drifting into the orbit of another satellite that transmits cable programming to the United States, the Associated Press is reporting.

According to the news service, a satellite known as Galaxy 15 broke contact with its owner, Intelsat on April 5. Although the exact cause is unknown, the satellite's owners believe it could have been "knocked out by a solar storm."

Normally, losing contact with a satellite wouldn't be cause for much concern, since in most cases, satellites stop transmitting signals. But Intelsat has confirmed that Galaxy 15 is still transmitting signals to Earth and it's slowly but surely entering the orbit of AMC 11, a satellite owned by SES World Skies, that handles U.S. cable programming.

Intelsat isn't concerned that the two satellites will collide, but rather that Galaxy 15 could send signals that would interfere with AMC 11's signals. The interference is expected to occur on or around May 23, according to the AP.

Between now and then, Intelsat is working diligently to regain control over Galaxy 15 and keep it away from AMC 11. An Intelsat representative told the news service that the company is "confident that service disruptions will be minimized or avoided."

The risks of not succeeding are high. According to the AP, "AMC 11 receives digital programming from cable television channels and transmits it to all U.S. cable systems."

Comcast, which has more than 23 million cable subscribers, did not immediately respond to request for comment on whether or not its service will be disrupted in the event of an interference issue.

 

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