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Satellite trouble causes communications outage

Posted: October 6, 2011

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A Canadian-owned satellite suffered a problem Thursday morning, causing widespread communications disruptions to phone circuits, television signals, Internet connections and data-relay services across North America.

  Anik F2
Artist's concept of Anik F2 in orbit. Credit: Boeing
The Anik F2 spacecraft experienced some sort of upset at 6:36 a.m. EDT (1036 GMT) that prompted the satellite to enter a "safe mode" in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the planet.

The Ottawa-based satellite operator Telesat said engineers are working to return Anik F2 to communications duties, perhaps as early as tonight.

"Telesat is in control of the satellite and all indications are that it is healthy and can be returned to service. Telesat is now undertaking to return the satellite to normal operations and is working with its customers on Anik F2 to restore traffic in an orderly manner and minimize the impact to their networks," the company said in a statement.

Launched aboard an Ariane 5 rocket in 2004, the powerhouse bird carries 45 Ka-band spot beams for broadband users, plus 32 Ku-band and 24 C-band transponders for broadcasting and telecommunications.

"Anik F2 supports a variety of services in Canada and the United States, all of which are affected by the satellite anomaly," Telesat said.

Officials indicated this was the first time there had been an outage with Anik F2.

The spacecraft operates at the 111.1-degree West longitude orbit slot. It is a Boeing 702 design with solar arrays stretching 157 feet long and a planned mission life of 15 years.