- Engadget: DirecTV satellite is at risk of explosion due to battery issues
- Space News: DirecTV fears explosion risk from satellite with damaged battery
say that the spacecraft must move 300 km above GEO soon. A damaged battery is no longer being used (for fear of explosion?) and it is running on purely solar power and will enter eclipse soon and therefore run the risk of becoming inoperable/unresponsive.
The company already switched the batteries off and has been operating Spaceway-1 using power generated by its solar panels. However, it's expected to pass through Earth's shadow in late February where only batteries can serve as its power source. That's why DirecTV has to send it 300 kilometers above geostationary orbit, at a place where satellites go to die, before February 25th. "The risk of a catastrophic battery failure makes it urgent that Spaceway-1 be fully de-orbited and decommissioned prior to the February 25th start of eclipse season," the company said in a statement.
I was surprised to see "de-orbited" refer to something other than a forced atmospheric reentry, but that's not my question.
Question: Raising above GEO by 300 km means that any explosion debris with a velocity above 16 m/s can still intersect GEO periodically. Is the risk of damage to operational spacecraft in GEO by a battery explosion of Spaceway-1 actually reduced by this move? Or is the risk simply that control will be lost and it will wander aimlessly, and the move doesn't affect risk of damage due to the explosion itself?