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Geostationary GPS Satellite Galaxy 15 Out of Control

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the geo-wobby dept.

Communications 379

Bruce Perens writes "The Galaxy 15 commercial satellite has not responded to commands since solar flares fried its CPU in April, and it won't turn off. Intelsat controllers moved all commercial payloads to other birds except for WAAS, a system that adds accuracy to GPS for landing aircraft and finding wayward geocaches. Since the satellite runs in 'bent pipe' mode, amplifying wide bands of RF that are beamed up to it, it is likely to interfere with other satellites as it crosses their orbital slots on its way to an earth-sun Lagrange point, the natural final destination of a geostationary satellite without maneuvering power." (More below.)Bruce continues: "The only payload that is still deliberately active on the satellite is its WAAS repeater. An attempt to overload the satellite and shut it down on May 3 caused a Notice to Airmen regarding the unavailability of WAAS for an hour. Unsaid is what will happen to WAAS, and for how long, when the satellite eventually loses its sun-pointing capability, expected later this year, and stops repeating the GPS correction signal. Other satellites can be moved into Galaxy 15's orbital slot, but it is yet unannounced whether the candidates bear the WAAS payload."

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379 comments

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Bastard (5, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150330)

Nuke the rogue satellite in the orbit.

Double Bastard (4, Insightful)

SendBot (29932) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150360)

And create all that space debris that will jeopardize countless other satellites?

The only way (5, Funny)

Evelas (1531407) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150382)

but it's the only way to be sure!

Re:The only way (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150442)

On their own, in Africa (incl. Egypt), niggers never even invented the wheel, domesticated animals, or created sailboats. So at least this satellite malfunction is ONE thing we cannot blame on the niggers. Hooray!

Re:The only way (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150644)

Given man's exodus from Africa and spread across the face of the Earth, I'd go so far as to suggest that "niggers" are your forebears. In that case, I guess if you're blaming everything on inferior races, you should probably just kill yourself to help purify the genetic pool. It's the only thing to do. It'd also make us feel a lot better, knowing you weren't out there wasting valuable space.

Re:The only way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150668)

No need to go that far back, GP is clearly a Sicilian.

Re:The only way (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150688)

Given man's exodus from Africa and spread across the face of the Earth, I'd go so far as to suggest that "niggers" are your forebears. In that case

... in that case, they are a primitive throwback and white people that came later are more highly evolved! It is nice of you to admit that it saves us lots of time. It neatly explains why it was the white man who invented and created and discovered and produced technology and sailed the world to discover the black man and not the other way around. Thanks for making my point for me it is so nice when people are helpful especially when they try to be spiteful.

Re:The only way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150928)

I advocate lasers. But where will we find the space sharks to mount them on? Clearly we've hit a road block here.

Re:Bastard (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150386)

It's the only way to be sure

Re:Bastard (4, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150578)

    That shouldn't be very hard. You do know what the unofficial government payload is on those satellites, right? Titanium cased nukes. The launch is easy. Just aim and give it a little shove. Then it detonates at the appropriate altitude. It's so much more efficient to already have your nukes up there, than to have to launch them from the surface and wait for them to come back down.

    You really don't want to just pop one in orbit though. It'll leave one heck of a mess up there. It's not just debris, it's radioactive debris.

Re:Bastard (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150758)

But if it's boosting everything RF, can't we use it to, like, make nice wireless P2P network or something?

Target practice? (4, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150332)

Haven't the military got some super satellite-busting weapon they've been dying to test?

Re:Target practice? (3, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150342)

I am thinking that the X-37b with the ABL (big laser) would work wonders for just this sort of thing.

though one would want to take really really careful aim. If you hit a large spinning mirror you could fry someone else.

Re:Target practice? (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150372)

... because a big debris cloud in orbit is a whole lot safer than one satellite in a known orbit.

Re:Target practice? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150438)

Well, in this case, maybe it is. With a projected path that sends it in the way of a major TV carrying satellite, and furthermore the transmission payload still blasting out signal at the same frequencies, this could knock many networks off many cable systems at the same time. That's pretty high on the "avoid this" list.

Re:Target practice? (3, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150474)

... and nothing of value would be lost.

(Besides, losing a few cable channels for a little while isn't much compared to actually losing satellites from debris hits. People can do without Fox News for a few days.)

Re:Target practice? (2, Insightful)

Macrat (638047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150706)

People can do without Fox News for a few days.

People will have to get their unfounded BS the old fashioned way.

Re:Target practice? (5, Funny)

Thaddeaus (777809) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150978)

Slashdot?



(I kid, I kid)

Re:Target practice? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150566)

That would be pretty bad, but its still better than scattering a debris field across an entire set of orbital trajectories. At least with this, they can maneuver satellites out of the way until a deorbit strategy can be made. If you blow it up in place, you'll have to wait until the pieces fall out due to the minuscule drag that exists in high orbit.

Re:Target practice? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150728)

Except that the debris could just as easily take those same networks off the system even longer if they strike the relevant satellite.

Re:Target practice? (4, Insightful)

Howitzer86 (964585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150440)

I thought it would just fry the electronics with intense heat. Just how much debris would that create? Can't be much.

Re:Target practice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150766)

Several thousand (and more) little bullets zooming around.

Re:Target practice? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150518)

How does a laser that would heat up the transmitters so that they would stop transmitting causing interference which is what they are worried about create more debris?

think before you type. The ABL doesn't make missiles go boom either. It heats up and the shorts out the guidance systems, making the missiles fall off target and hopefully out of the sky.

Re:Target practice? (4, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150886)

Think before you type.

The YAL-1 doesn't "heat up and short out guidance systems", it and the NC-135 used a laser to burn through the missile's wall and causes a structural failure.

Re:Target practice? (1)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150596)

Why can't anti-satellite systems hit the target from ABOVE, and direct debrit towards re-entry?

Madcow

Re:Target practice? (4, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150612)

*MORBOR*: That is not how orbital mechanics works!

You want to hit the satellite away from the direction it's orbiting in, so that it loses enough orbital velocity to descend into the top-most part of the atmosphere where drag will slow it down even further and pull it down.

Re:Target practice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150970)

*MORBOR*: That is not how orbital mechanics works!

You want to hit the satellite away from the direction it's orbiting in, so that it loses enough orbital velocity to descend into the top-most part of the atmosphere where drag will slow it down even further and pull it down.

*MORBOR*: That is not how orbital mechanics works!

You want to hit the satellite away from the direction it's orbiting in, so that it loses enough orbital velocity to descend into the top-most part of the atmosphere where drag will slow it down even further and pull it down.

thanks ankara nakliyat [ankaranakliyeci.com]

Light pressure (5, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150864)

Light doesn't just illuminate something. It has pressure. If you illuminate a satellite from the proper angle with less than the energy required to blow it apart, for long enough, you can change its orbit.

Re:Light pressure (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150944)

Uh? No.

Re:Target practice? (2, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150632)

I am thinking that the X-37b with the ABL (big laser) would work wonders for just this sort of thing.

though one would want to take really really careful aim. If you hit a large spinning mirror you could fry someone else.

Or we could just send a couple of GLG20's into the mountainous regions at the border of Afghanistan and the Soviet Union to smash a SatScram terminal with a rock, save the day, and have sex with a super cute Russian soldier, while she strangely looks like a supermodel, and another hot GLG20 sent in with you.

Oh wait...... this isn't a movie :)

Re:Target practice? (1)

MrLint (519792) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150940)

It'll suck the paint off your house and give your family a permanent orange afro.

Re:Target practice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150534)

Haven't the military got some super satellite-busting weapon they've been dying to test?

The problem is it's designed to shoot down targets that cost a tenth what the missile cost.

Re:Target practice? (5, Insightful)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150604)

Too high.

The recent anti-sat missiles which China [wikipedia.org] and the USA [wikipedia.org] tested just took out satellites which were in low earth orbit, 400km max. This satellite is in a geosynchronous orbit, which is about 36,000 km high (and for reference, the moon is 380,000 km away, so a moon-earth Lagrange point would make a little more sense).

And these anti-sat missiles don't even have to reach a 400 km orbit, an epileptic orbit which would intersect with earth again (but happens to intersect with another satellite first) is sufficient, that is why they could be launched from a warship. Not that taking down a geostationary sat would be impossible - since they don't zip overhead with 25,000 km/h it could actually be easier, but these weapons are not build for it and would need another booster base.

Re:Target practice? (5, Funny)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150672)

"epileptic orbit"

I'd love to see an orbit do that!

Re:Target practice? (4, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150744)

I don't know, personally I shudder to see something like that.

Re:Target practice? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150824)

"epileptic orbit"

I'd love to see an orbit do that!

I've got one of them. Tegretol fixed it right up (again). Its just that if I get a logjam in my liver I lose track of what is up and what is down.

Re:Target practice? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150756)

Everyone (apart from the Chinese [abcnews.com] ) is very hesitant to gratuitously blow stuff up in orbit, because the debris stays in orbit and makes space missions more dangerous and difficult.

Re:Target practice? (2, Informative)

kcitren (72383) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150844)

apart from the Chinese

Well, the US did it. See [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA-193]

frist psot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150334)

galaxy 15 is pants

Where'd my cable channels go? (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150376)

Here's a list of what AMC-11 is used for [lyngsat.com] on Lyngsat.

Basically, if this wayward sat gets in the way, the average cable/DBS subscriber in the USA is going to wonder where half their digital channels went.

Re:Where'd my cable channels go? (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150444)

And nothing of value was lost.

Not necessarily... (5, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150446)

In 1998, Galaxy IV blew out [wikipedia.org] , which controlled commercial communications for a metric assload of services (including my former employer's dealership communications network, FordStar [fordstarconnect.com] ). I (and every other remote admin) got a $50 bounty per dish that we hurriedly re-pointed to a different satellite. Cleaned the whole thing up across the global network (four continents) in less than three weeks.

I'm fairly sure that cable TV, which has more sats on tap and relatively less dishes to re-position (and nobody has to crawl on top of a zillion roofs with a wrench and a compass in hand), could likely recover in very short order - probably hours.

That said, there's always the danger of a chain reaction (after all, there's a LOT of satellites in geosync orbit) - if not at this time, then certainly in the coming future, as the numbers continue to increase.

Re:Not necessarily... (5, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150500)

Thing is... that 1998 event left several lesser-known cable channels holding the back as bigger-money former Galaxy IV customers used their pre-empt rights on the other birds to keep themselves on the air. A natural supply/demand price increase situation arose from this.

The SkyTel service never recovered. Customers of that service were migrated to cellular-based pagers.

Re:Not necessarily... (5, Funny)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150638)

cellular-based pagers

PAGERS???? What the hell is a pager?

Re:Not necessarily... (3, Funny)

Macrat (638047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150720)

PAGERS???? What the hell is a pager?

Ask your grand parents.

Re:Not necessarily... (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150774)

Ask your grand parents.

Time to whip out the Ouija board, so you can receive a short one way message from beyond.

Re:Not necessarily... (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150804)

cellular-based pagers

PAGERS???? What the hell is a pager?

Twitter, but in one direction only.

Re:Where'd my cable channels go? (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150548)

Well, as a Comcast customer, half of my analog channels disappeared a couple weeks ago. Could this be related?

Re:Where'd my cable channels go? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150576)

no thats just comcast service as usual.

Re:Where'd my cable channels go? (0, Troll)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150658)

Nope. They are slowly migrating all the old analog channels to a hi-def signal (FCC mandate). That's why most people who plug the cable into the back of the tv can't get a signal anymore. Call 1-800-comcast as you may be able to get an adapter box to compensate for this.

Re:Where'd my cable channels go? (3, Insightful)

920 (450020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150792)

Last I checked, the FCC only mandated the switch to digital over the air and had nothing to say what format was broadcast over private networks. That decision is just based on greed. (more free bandwidth and more converter box rental fees.)

Re:Where'd my cable channels go? (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150620)

Oh noes...lifetime movie channel is offline. Dman you AMC-11. Seriously though, any cable company worth their salt already has several contingency plans in effect so no news here.

Re:Where'd my cable channels go? (1)

seanvaandering (604658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150966)

Uh huh, I see it carries Showtime, MTV, VH1... maybe this will get the kids out of the basement for a day or two... this could actually be a good thing!

Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (4, Informative)

Manhigh (148034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150404)

It should be mentioned that the stable libration points for geostationary satellites are earth-relative (105 deg west, 75 deg east) and are not the same as the Sun-Earth lagrange points (such as those occupied by SOHO and other observation satellites). If we could get spacecraft without maneuvering capability to perform that orbital transfer, we'd be much closer to living in a Star Trek-esque world.

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150492)

It should be mentioned that the stable libration points for geostationary satellites are earth-relative (105 deg west, 75 deg east) and are not the same as the Sun-Earth lagrange points (such as those occupied by SOHO and other observation satellites).

Forgive my ignorance in these highly technical matters, but when exactly did we start sending up Small Or Home Office satellites?

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (4, Funny)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150552)

It should be mentioned that the stable libration points for geostationary satellites are earth-relative (105 deg west, 75 deg east) and are not the same as the Sun-Earth lagrange points (such as those occupied by SOHO and other observation satellites).

Forgive my ignorance in these highly technical matters, but when exactly did we start sending up Small Or Home Office satellites?

I always wondered what that particular SOHO meant. Drove me nuts because I heard of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory first.

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (1)

slaad (589282) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150562)

It should be mentioned that the stable libration points for geostationary satellites are earth-relative (105 deg west, 75 deg east) and are not the same as the Sun-Earth lagrange points (such as those occupied by SOHO and other observation satellites).

Forgive my ignorance in these highly technical matters, but when exactly did we start sending up Small Or Home Office satellites?

Don't be silly. He's referring to the satellite dedicated to observing (looking for terrorists) parts of New York, centered over SoHo [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150570)

We didn't, but we did send up a Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150586)

SOHO (SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory) is the primary NASA mission for observing the sun and solar flares.

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150592)

Forgive my ignorance in these highly technical matters, but when exactly did we start sending up Small Or Home Office satellites?

We didn't. Instead we sent up Solar Heliospheric Observatory [nasa.gov] satellites. IIRC, they're the ones that UFOlogists like to think have shown UFOs.

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (2, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150702)

Oops. These are not L1 and L2? I am having trouble imagining the physical mechanism for earth-relative libration point. There's no other mass and this is a phenomenon driven by the oblate shape of the earth?

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (2, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150764)

Right. This has nothing to do with Lagrange points.

This is related to the fact that the Earth is not perfectly spherical.

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150852)

Actually, those are Lagrange Points. The Earth/Moon system has a set. The Earth/Sun system has a set. Different sets, same name.

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (4, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150892)

Well, it's a low-energy point along an orbit. Since you can't treat Earth as a point mass and it's not perfectly round or uniformly dense, there probably is a "three body" problem in this case. So, isn't it the same phenomenon, just a degenerate case?

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150834)

Yeah, I was wondering how a satellite in geosync would be able to get to even an earth-moon L point with no fuel... http://www.freemars.org/l5/aboutl5.html [freemars.org]

Re:Not Sun-Earth Lagrange points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150772)

Looking at this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lagrange_points.jpg [wikipedia.org] max/min map:

Would a marble flow to these Lx minimums if it had no velocity? If the sun-earth is equivalent to the earth-moon, then maybe the L1 is meant?

Galaxy 15 . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150408)

is Alive!

I know I've made some very poor decisions recently (5, Funny)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150412)

After sending between 150,000 and 200,000 commands to the satellite to coax it back into service, Intelsat was forced to scrap its satellite-recovery efforts and to resort, on Monday, to a limited-duration effort to force the satellite to shut down its transponders. This was to be accomplished by sending a stronger series of signals designed to cause Galaxy 15's power system to malfunction and force a shutdown of the satellite's payload. That attempt, which Luxembourg-based, Washington-headquartered Intelsat had viewed as its last, best-understood option for Galaxy 15, was unsuccessful.
The last message from the satellite was "I'm sorry, Intelsat. I'm afraid I can't do that."

Re:I know I've made some very poor decisions recen (0)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150528)

I kept on telling people that the Luxembourgians were a military threat, but nobody listened to me until it was too late.

Re:I know I've made some very poor decisions recen (2, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150676)

They forgot to use sudo.

    $ reentry_burn
    I'm sorry, Intelsat. I'm afraid I can't do that

    $ sudo reentry_burn
    Reentry burn initiated. Atmospheric entry in +00:15:00
 

Re:I know I've made some very poor decisions recen (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150920)

$ sudo reentry_burn

"Without your space helmet, Smythe, you're going to find that rather difficult." ; )

Re:I know I've made some very poor decisions recen (3, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150942)

Atmoshperic entry from GEO 15 minutes after reentry burn? No way.

Title is wrong, not GPS (0)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150454)

This is a commercial communications satellite that hasnothing to do with the Global Positioning System

Re:Title is wrong, not GPS (2, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150540)

Yes, but it carries a WAAS signal which your consumer "GPS" unit uses to increase the accuracy it's measurements. So, if this gets too far out of position without shutting off, your consumer GPS might get confused. Exact impact hasn't been computed yet.

Re:Title is wrong, not GPS (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150574)

Not just consumer GPS use WAAS. It was started by the FAA so that aircraft could safely use GPS instead of radio beacons. Therefore most commercial/industrial GPS use it too. About the only people who don't use it will be surveying GPS, which use DGPS to get even greater accuracy than the WAAS corrected signal.

Re:Title is wrong, not GPS (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150542)

It has to do with the GPS system tangentially. It's part of the GCCS/WAAS system, which augments the GPS system for flight navigation purposes. It also relays TV signals.

Re:Title is wrong, not GPS (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150572)

Correct, but it also carried a lot of other traffic. To call it a "GPS satellite" would be like calling it a "religious satellite" if it carries a televangelist channel, or a "financial satellite" if some bank uses it.

Re:Title is wrong, not GPS (4, Informative)

r6_jason (893331) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150584)

It isn't GPS, it's WAAS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide_Area_Augmentation_System [wikipedia.org] which is an "air navigation aid developed by the Federal Aviation Administration to augment the Global Positioning System (GPS), with the goal of improving its accuracy, integrity, and availability. Essentially, WAAS is intended to enable aircraft to rely on GPS for all phases of flight, including precision approaches to any airport within its coverage area."

Re:Title is wrong, not GPS (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150580)

You've put me in a difficult situation explaining this to you since it appears you read the title but not the summaries or the articles, yet somehow knew that this is a commercial communications satellite. Here's a linky with details on how it *does* have something to do with GPS: http://www.gpsworld.com/gps/news/waas-broadcasting-satellite-having-problems-9810 [gpsworld.com]

Since I can't be sure you will read TFL, here's the first paragraph that you probably won't read either:
Intelsat S.A. announced they lost control of their Galaxy 15 (G-15) satellite. G-15 (PRN 135 to GPS users) is one of the two Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) broadcasting satellites (GEOs) that broadcast GPS corrections for aviation and ground users all over North America. Despite the Intelsat announcement, the WAAS payload on G-15 is still broadcasting corrections.

Are there any other sources we can provide that you also won't read?

Re:Title is wrong, not GPS (5, Informative)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150630)

This is a commercial communications satellite that hasnothing to do with the Global Positioning System

It is not a GPS satellite, in that it is not part of the constellation of satellites that provide position reference. However, as TFA and the other links say, this satellite is one of only two that operate the Wide Area Augmentation System. WAAS uses ground-based GPS receiving stations with known positions to generate a correction signal which increases the accuracy of GPS position fixes to less than 25ft within North America and surrounding areas. Without WAAS, plain GPS can have error in the hundreds of feet. Without the accuracy provided by WAAS, GPS navigation cannot be used for instrument flight approaches - one of the most critical, important, and common uses of GPS today. If this satellite fails, the WAAS system will remain operational throughout most of its original coverage area - but will almost certainly fall outside the reliability limits required for instrument flight certification. It will be a very serious problem for many commercial users of GPS, and possibly for some military applications as well.

Re:Title is wrong, not GPS (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150890)

GPS accuracy isn't that bad. Ground based Differential GPS has an absolute worse case accuracy of 10m lateral/vertical.

Re:Title is wrong, not GPS (1)

rriven (737681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150932)

The Wikipedia article states that the satellite also broadcasts the same information as a "GPS" satellite. Don't know if that makes it a GPS sat or not since it is commerical, but it does all the function of a GPS sat plus more (WAAS).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide_Area_Augmentation_System [wikipedia.org]

"The space segment consists of multiple geosynchronous communication satellites which broadcast the correction messages generated by the Wide-area Master Stations for reception by the User segment. The satellites also broadcast the same type of range information as normal GPS satellites, effectively increasing the number of satellites available for a position fix..."

Re:Title is wrong, not GPS (3, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150952)

There is, as far as I am aware, a special L-band payload for WAAS. It was contracted to be installed on several communications satellites that are otherwise used for C-band and other civilian bands.

Re:Title is wrong, not GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150674)

This is a commercial communications satellite that hasnothing to do with the Global Positioning System

Wrong. Partly, anyway. This satellite is one of the two satellites that broadcast the WAAS signal [wikipedia.org] to GPS receivers in North America. While it's not exactly a GPS satellite as the headline says, it's a part of the overall system, and a large number of GPS users rely on it (mainly in aviation, for instrument landing guidance).

Oh the scrambled pr0n (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150508)

I remember turning my big satellite dish towards galaxy sats. Trying to unscramble the pr0n channels. I sold all my equipment years ago but still miss the big monster and waiting on it to lock in to whatever satellite I was after.

I nearly killed my wife with my C-Band satellite dish. She was on the riding lawnmower and I moved the dish to a satellite that required it to aim very low in the southern sky. She didnt see it moving in time as she was looking at the right front wheel because she thought it was getting low on air. A trip to the hospital with 15 stitches and a mild concussion and it was time to sell and buy a DirectTV dish. Looking back I should have just gotten rid of my wife. It would have been a better deal in the long run.

Tuning... Tuning... Tuning... Tuning... G15 CH40 crap on tv tonight. Tuning... Tuning... Tuning... G17 CH25 Hell yeah porkys is on (dont remember what all channels but it was good times).

Re:Oh the scrambled pr0n (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150798)

    Nice. :) Ya, you'll spend way more on the wife (hospital bills excluded) than you will on satellite equipment. I've never had any electronics say "I just spent $500 on shoes, hope you don't mind.", but I have heard the wife say "What do you mean you spent $200 on more toys?!"

    My worst luck with those dishes wasn't it arbitrarily hitting people. It was in a fenced area. Ours got hit by lightning a few times, and the control motor died more often. Last time the motor died, I did find that I could hit one satellite with a lot of good stuff on it, if I propped up the dish on a small stack of milk crates. It stayed exclusively there for a few years, only being realigned after heavy storms. Then the magic of cable TV came to the neighborhood and all was solved. It was so much easier to use a single testchip in the cable box than it was to reenter the codes into the VideoCipher. My apologies if I got any of the terms wrong, I haven't had either in many years. I found there's more to life than TV. :)

GET READY (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150536)

none of the GPS satellites are 'hardened' against solar flares. This one went down for just a B flare and the next solar cycle has just begun!

We should ask for help. (0, Offtopic)

EvilSpudBoy (1159091) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150550)

We could ask Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to ask the aliens to pick it up on their way by sometime.

GEO /= GPS!!!! (4, Informative)

dev_alac (536560) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150642)

There are No GPS satellites in GEO. They have their own special orbits. The title is really, really wrong... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gps#Space_segment [wikipedia.org]

Re:GEO /= GPS!!!! (1)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150718)

Read about WAAS. Many consumer & professional GPS receivers use it to enhance the accuracy.

Re:GEO /= GPS!!!! (3, Informative)

ebob (220513) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150812)

There are No GPS satellites in GEO. They have their own special orbits. The title is really, really wrong... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gps#Space_segment [wikipedia.org]

Um, well, actually there are. "The [WAAS] satellites also broadcast the same type of range information as normal GPS satellites, effectively increasing the number of satellites available for a position fix." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide_Area_Augmentation_System [wikipedia.org] The title seems okay to me.

how do satellites move? (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150694)

how do satellites move in orbit? I didn't know they could do that

Re:how do satellites move? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150708)

Everything is moving in orbit. If one satellite has a different speed from the others then it is moveing relative to them. In practice rocket motors are used for station keeping. If a motor (or the control system) fails then the satellite will not be able to hold station.

Cheap solution for the future... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150700)

Tin foil... lots of it.

Interference (4, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150738)

Reminded me of this gem from NotAlwaysRight:

Customer: “I will have you know, son, I am a Gunnery Sergeant. I’ve worked with Hand Operated Radios for years and I’m telling you RIGHT NOWthere is someone standing next to your satellite with a d*** radio and it’s interfering with my signal. I demand you to get out there and tell them to stop.”

Me: “Far be it from me to ever argue with my clients, but I will have to at this time. I understand that you’re a Gunny Sergeant and that you’ve operated HAM radios for years, but I know my satellite equipment, and it’s not possible for someone to be standing next to my satellite with a radio.”

Customer: “Oh? Really, smart man? Why is that?”

Me: “Because our satellites are in outer space."

Apparently, it is possible for someone to be standing next to your satellite and cause interference, as long as the someone is another satellite. (But it isn't easy to tell them to stop... :P )

A funnel (5, Funny)

falken0905 (624713) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150748)

Perhaps they can launch and rendezvous a 100 ton steel 'funnel' and fit it over the satellite thus preventing it from spewing tons of satellite pollution toward earth. In fact, such a device has already been built and is currently not being used. Bonus, it's currently located not all that far from Cape Canaveral and transport ships are located nearby.

Short Circuit 3 (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150754)

Number 5 got upgraded, and now is runing amok over our heads.

Solar flares have mutating power (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150848)

Haven't they seen Fantastic Four? After a big dose of solar radiation it's probably now self aware and hell bent on causing chaos!
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