'Zombiesat' Is Alive!

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Can reanimated corpses ever really be brought back to life?

In the case of the Intelsat Galaxy 15 satellite that had its “brains fried” by a solar flare nine months ago, it would appear that zombies really can be brought back from the dead.

Amazingly, the “zombiesat” is back online, communicating with mission control and there’s real optimism it might be brought back to full service!

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The April solar storm killed Galaxy 15′s ability to communicate with Earth but left its payload fully operational, drifting uncontrolled 26,000 miles (42,000 kilometers) above Earth.

WATCH VIDEO: A solar eruption sends a wave of plasma hurtling towards Earth on August 1st, 2010. The event was captured by NASA satellites

As if having a multi-million dollar communications satellite paralyzed in orbit wasn’t enough, the satellite gained notoriety in May for threatening the airing of the final episode of Lost.

On May 23, the day of the series finale, Galaxy 15 drifted into the geosynchronous orbital slot of AMC-11, a satellite owned by SES World Skies that distributes cable television throughout the USA. Both sats process “C-band” signals, meaning they operate on the same frequencies.

As Galaxy 15 simply receives signals from the ground, amplifies them and beams them back to customers on Earth, the concern was that its “bent-pipe” design would steal the signal from AMC-11, interrupting the viewing pleasure of potentially millions of cable customers.

Fortunately for Lost fans, interference was kept to a minimum. (But many viewers still remained baffled as to what Lost was really about.)

Now that Intelsat has regained control of their wayward — and possibly resurrected — zombiesat, we can avoid potential interruptions to future TV shows. Phew.

According an Intelsat press release: “We have placed Galaxy 15 in safe mode, and at this time, we are pleased to report it no longer poses any threat of satellite interference to either neighboring satellites or customer services.”

But how did the company regain control of their hardware? They simply waited until the satellite’s batteries drained, forcing a system restart.

On 23 December, the power from the Galaxy 15 battery completely drained during its loss of earth lock and the Baseband Equipment (BBE) command unit reset, as it was designed to do. Shortly thereafter Galaxy 15 began accepting commands and Intelsat engineers began receiving telemetry in our Satellite Operations center. — Intelsat

Now we await news to see whether the restart will allow the infamous Galaxy 15 to continue service. If it does, perhaps the “zombiesat” should be renamed “resurrectisat.”

Read more about the “zombiesat” saga:

Zombiesat Attack! Solar Storm Fries Satellite’s Brain

Wake-Up Call: ‘Zombiesat’ Could Interrupt ‘Lost’ Finale

Source: Intelsat via Universe Today

Image (top): The Galaxy 15 satellite before being launched in 2005 (Orbital Sciences)