DirecTV Inc. confirmed Tuesday that certain components on one of its key
in-orbit satellites, DirecTV 3, are disabled.
Engineers for the company said a spacecraft-control processor on the
satellite stopped working May 4 and automatically switched control of its
functions to a redundant SCP on the same satellite.
DirecTV 3 delivers core programming for the direct-broadcast satellite
service from its 101 degrees west orbital location.
As a precautionary measure, the company has begun to shift programming from
DirecTV 3 to other satellites at 101 degrees, DirecTV 1R and DirecTV 2. Once the
programming shift is complete, DirecTV 3 will serve as an in-orbit spare.
'Everything we do is designed for redundancy and in-orbit backup,' spokesman
Bob Marsocci said.
The company said its 10.5 million customers did not experience any loss of
service due to the recent anomaly.
A fourth satellite at 101 degrees, DirecTV 4S, delivers local-to-local
broadcast channels using spot-beam technology. The company plans to launch a
second spot-beam satellite in 2003.
DirecTV 3 launched in 1995 with an expected service life of 12 years. The
company said the backup SCP was designed to operate for the life of the
DirecTV's first satellite, DirecTV 1, exhibited the same SCP anomaly and was
moved to the 110 degrees orbital location several years ago. The company's
DirecTV 2 satellite shares the same components as DirecTV 1 and DirecTV 3, but
it has not yet exhibited the SCP component failure.
Once testing is complete on DirecTV 5, which launched last week, the company
will have seven satellites in orbit among all three full-CONUS (continental
United States) slots.