DirecTV satellite in orbit at risk of exploding

Company says satellite suffered battery damage

DirecTV has less than a month to remove a satellite from space that the company says could explode.

DirecTV has less than a month to remove a satellite from space that the company says could explode.

The company informed the Federal Communications Commission that one of its telecommunication satellites suffered damage to its battery.

Boeing made Spaceway-1 and concluded that there is a risk the battery could burst because of the damage.

If that happened, it could take out other telecommunication satellites that are nearby in orbit.

Scientist and space photographer Dr. Ken Kremer said particles could go in every direction.

“There would be a lot of debris and it only takes a small particle traveling at those speeds to destroy or disable another satellite or potentially puncture the International Space Station and harm our astronauts,” Kremer said.

The FCC has granted DirecTV 30 days to take its satellite out of orbit and decommission it.

DirecTV wants to make this happen before the start of the spring eclipse season on Feb. 25.

On that date, the satellite cannot rely on solar power and using the potentially explosive battery is unavoidable.

There are two ways to get Spaceway-1 out of orbit.

The satellite could be brought up to what’s known as the graveyard orbit and become spacejunk, or it could be brought down, splashing into the ocean.

DirecTV said either way, one month is not enough time to vent out all of the satellite’s fuel and any fuel still in the satellite poses another risk of an explosion.

DirecTV said Spaceway-1 was a backup satellite so no customers were affected by its failure.

About the Authors:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.