After a mysterious “anomaly” in orbit, a Malaysian satellite will soon fall from space and burn in the Earth’s atmosphere. Measat3, a communications satellite that
has used for nearly 15 years, encountered an inexplicable problem on June 21, which caused its customers to stop service.
According to the company’s latest news, it was placed under ground control on June 24, but has not been put into use since. However, Measat and the satellite manufacturer Boeing are still investigating the “root cause” due to the satellite pretending to be dead.
Measat said on August 6 that it decided to continue the desorption.
“Further testing and restoration work found that the satellite could not be returned to service. The satellite will be out of orbit in the next few weeks,” Measat said in the update. It has not announced the exact time it plans to burn Measat3.
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Measat3 was launched in December. On January 11, 2006, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the launch center where the Soyuz spacecraft regularly sends crew members to the International Space Station.
The spacecraft serves more than 100 countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. According to local news reports citing Astro’s tweets, satellite television operator Astro is one of the affected customers.
According to space-tracking company ExoAnalytic Solutions, by mid-July most customers had moved to a replacement satellite, but the satellite has been rolling in orbit since at least July 1. “Very few people come back from this stage,” Bill Therien, executive vice president of engineering for ExoAnalytic Solutions, told SpaceNews on July 17.
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ExoAnalytic further noted that there is no debris around Measat3 suggesting a space collision that could cause service problems. ExoAnalytic said the satellite is not at risk of colliding with other space objects in the near future. On August 11, SpaceNews quoted an insurance company as saying the satellite could run out of fuel before its geosynchronous orbit.
Measat stated on August 6 that it is preparing a new satellite called Measat3D, manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space, “for use in early 2022.”