The Malaysian Space Agency (MYSA) has played down the odds of the Measat-3 satellite crashing to earth following the move in July to retire and de-orbit it, which had sparked speculation that it could fall from space to burn up in the atmosphere.
In a statement to MalaysiaNow, MYSA director-general Azlikamil Napiah said the Measat-3 satellite remained in a “very high altitude orbital zone” despite the move to de-orbit it after it suffered an anomaly on June 21.
“Based on M3’s position and existing information, we believe it would be a very remote case that M3 will fall to earth, unless its position is purposely commanded to be ejected or pushed down from the very high-altitude orbital zone to the lower altitude orbital zone,” he said.
Measat-3 was launched on Dec 11, 2006 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It was ordered by Measat Satellite Systems Sdn Bhd in March 2003.
Earlier reports said it had been put under ground control on June 24 after an unknown incident three days earlier which left it “playing dead”.
“Further testing and recovery efforts found that the satellite could not re-enter service,” a Space.com report quoted Measat as saying in an update from the company.
Azlikamil said the Measat-3 satellite had been positioned at an orbital altitude of 35,786km – very high altitude – and remained at a specific outer space orbit.
“The position of M3 is very far from the earth’s surface compared to other moving (non-geostationary) satellites which mainly operate within low orbital altitudes of 500km to 2,000km and close to the atmospheric or earth re-entry zone,” he said.
He added that the Measat-3d satellite will be launched in early 2022 to replace Measat-3 and its services.