lMeasat, a Malaysian satellite operator, said on July 17 that it had retained command control and continuous telemetry of an aged satellite that had been moving westward in geostationary orbit for about a month, according to ExoAnalytic Solutions, a well-known space tracking company. Measat-3 began moving out of the 91.5 East orbital slot after the ExoAnalytic space tracking system identified an anomaly on June 21. After starting to drift on June 22, Measat-3 appears to have made many in-orbit maneuvers, but “none since our analysts determined on July 1 that it was tumbling,” according to Bill Therien, executive vice president in charge of ExoAnalytic Solutions.
Therien told SpaceNews on July 17 that “it’s rare to witness one come back from the stage.” However, he did add that Measat might still be able to contact with and reclaim the Boeing-built satellite that was getting towards the end of its operating period after being launched in 2006. Boeing is undertaking an in-depth examination into the underlying cause of an issue on Measat-3, which is insured, according to Measat.
The operator said on June 26 that an anomaly discovered on June 21 had been rectified and that its crew had had complete control of Measat-3 for two days. “During the course of our monitoring of restored satellite services following a recent anomaly event on MEASAT-3, we have noticed that the stages of intermittent service degradation documented to indicate that additional period will be expected to complete the complex satellite and signal stabilisation process properly” the company said in a statement on June 27.
ExoAnalytic Solutions, based in the United States, claimed there was no surrounding debris Measat-3 when it began drifting and that there is no risk of colliding with another object in orbit in the foreseeable future. “Drifting from orbit is a natural phenomena when satellites age,” said Stewart Bain, CEO of Northstar. This Canadian company is developing a satellite constellation that is meant to track other satellites.
“A more extreme situation is MEASAT-3. As space becomes more commercialized, cases like this underscore how critical it is for the economy to have exact real-time information on the resident space objects so that other high-value space assets can take required evasive maneuvers or otherwise stay put.”
With C-band services, Measat-3 spanned Asia, Southern Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East, while Ku-band services included Malaysia, Indonesia, and South Asia. After the satellite had problems, the operator stated it could quickly transfer and restore broadcast operations on the other satellites in its fleet. It announced on July 17 that “all MEASAT-3 transponders are successfully disabled to avoid tampering with other satellites.”