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Canadian Telesat Satellite Outage Due to Software Error

Satellite Technology

Satellite Technology Feature Article

October 11, 2011

Canadian Telesat Satellite Outage Due to Software Error

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

Parts of the Canadian Arctic were out of communication yesterday to the failure of a Telesat (News - Alert) satellite, the Associated Press has reported.  The interruption of the satellite's operations rendered thousands of Canadians living and working in remote areas out of contact, and it forced First Air airline to cancel 48 flights, resulting in about 1,000 passengers being stranded in advance of the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend.

The satellite, Telesat's Anik F2, affected Wi-Fi, telecommunication and broadcast services, according to the Canadian Press news agency. Ten of 33 communities served by NorthwesTel in the far north of Canada were affected.

Telesat said that the satellite suddenly ceased functioning Thursday morning due to a software error that occurred during a routine maneuver. The satellite put itself into “safe mode” and pointed towards the sun to charge its batteries until the repair prompted it to turn around and resume its transmissions, said the Canadian Press Agency. The outage affected services for customers including Shaw Direct TV, government agencies, and The Canadian Press news agency. Other companies that use C-band, Ku-band and Ka-band services, frequencies that are primarily used for Wi-Fi, telecommunication and broadcast services, were also affected.

Service was reportedly restored overnight.

The Anik F2 is a Boeing (News - Alert) 702-series satellite and was launched to carry North American voice, data and broadcast services in July 2004. It was Telesat's fifteenth satellite, and at 5,900 kilograms (nearly 13,000 pounds), it is one of the largest, most powerful communications satellites ever built.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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