DirecTV Will Move One of Its Satellites in Danger of Exploding Out of Orbit

Spaceway-1 suffered “major anomaly” in December that could cause its battery cells to burst

DirecTV will move one of its satellites is in danger of exploding out of orbit and away from other communication satellites.

In a filing with the FCC, as reported by Bloomberg, on Jan. 19, the company said the battery cells on the satellite — named Spaceway-1 — pose a “significant risk” of bursting. DirecTV said it needs to conduct an emergency operation in order to reduce the danger of an explosion. The FCC granted DirecTV’s request.

“This satellite is a backup and we do not anticipate any impacts on consumer service as we retire it. We are replacing it with another satellite in our fleet,” said an AT&T spokesperson. The spokesperson continued that the old satellite is being moved out of orbit.

Spaceway-1 was launched in 2005 and made by Boeing, and provides backup TV coverage for Alaska residents. It has been shut down, with no customers affected.

DirecTV said that the spacecraft “suffered a major anomaly” in December, which caused irreversible damage to the batteries. The object is being operated solely by solar power. DirecTV said it needs to be moved to a safer orbit before Feb. 25, when the satellite’s current trajectory will put it in the Earth’s shadow, rendering the solar power useless.

“The risk of a catastrophic battery failure makes it urgent,” the company said in the filing.

AT&T purchased DirecTV in 2014 for $48 billion.

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