‘Zombie’ satellite creating orbital worries
A failed Russian satellite is creating major headaches for its neighbouring satellite operators. Yamal 201, operated by Gazprom, failed in June and according to local reports is now tumbling in its orbit and slowly drifting westwards from its 90 degrees East position.
The next satellites in its path include are a Thaicom craft, Indian and Chinese satellites and – at the moment quite a way off – an Intelsat and Inmarsat craft.
The drift of Yamal-201 is said to be slow (at about 0.025/degree per day) and the risk of catastrophe is modest.
Back in 2010 a similar drifting ‘Zombie’-sat (Galaxy-15) spend some 7 months drifting through the geostationary orbital arc, and creating massive worries for the American broadcast industry. Satellites had to be moved out of the path of the Zombie craft, although it was eventually recovered and is now back on station and working normally. That is not likely to happen to Yamal-201, which was nearing the end of its working life.