Future for the Spaceway satellites

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by Pink Jazz, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. Pink Jazz

    Pink Jazz Mentor

    Jan 1, 2012
    Gilbert, AZ
    In the next two years, the Spaceway satellites will be approaching their design life. This is not surprising, since they were essentially "hacked" to provide high-definition television instead of high-speed Internet. However, they still have several years left of fuel life. Has DirecTV renewed their leases with the FCC yet?

    I understand that D15 is currently idle due to some dispute with Ciel that has recently been resolved this month. Is D15 replacing SW1? What about SW2? I don't know of any future launches; I wonder when will DTV put out an RFP for D16.
  2. longrider

    longrider Well-Known Member

    Apr 21, 2007
    Elizabeth, CO
    I doubt there will be any public announcements other than what is disclosed in investor calls. DirecTV is known for not really worrying about design life but more functional life. If the payload is still functional and there is sufficient fuel DirecTV will keep using the satellite.

    The Ciel dispute is only with the RB payload on D15. The KA payload is ready go when needed, I have not been following if any of it is in use yet
  3. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2013
    SW2 hasn't been in use for over a year now. SW1 serves a few markets but isn't doing a whole lot. Many of us were thinking that between D14's new spotbeams and reassigning spot beams from D11 and D12 that they could phase out SW1 as well, but a few beams were moved to D14 and then moved back to SW1. Maybe the coverage from those D14 beams wasn't up to snuff, no way to tell. Once that happened nothing has changed since. So SW2 may stick around for a while yet, but they don't really make public any reasons for what they do or don't do with their satellites so we can only guess.

    The design life of a satellite doesn't really matter all that much. As longrider said, so long as it is working properly for what they require of it they care more about the fuel life which for both extends somewhere beyond 2020 - that's the most detailed info Directv has provided. Some other satellites of theirs have fuel life over a decade beyond the design life, so they may last until 2030 for all we know. Since Directv has two of them and is only using one, they seem to be pretty well covered for what little Directv still needs them for.

    It isn't clear why D15's Ka payload is idle, though D10 hasn't had any issues that we know about since the big problems in spring 2015, so there hasn't been a need to bring it online and replace D10 if that's not their long term plan for it. When D15 was being built it was originally stated to be an "in orbit spare", and the fact it has payloads to perform any CONUS activity Directv needs, with a full complement of Ku, Ka lo, Ka hi and reverse band transponders, left some uncertainty where it would eventually be deployed since it can handle any duty Directv requires aside from spot beams.

    Locating D15 at 103 made sense if they were going to use its reverse band payload, but since it appears that the outcome of the dispute with Ciel is that they cannot (that's not certain, but it sure looks that way to me) then there is nothing to be gained from having it at 103 so long as D10 stays healthy. D10 seems to have been a bit problem plagued, but whether that's because it was a lemon or just some unrelated bad luck is something only Directv knows and isn't something they have or are likely to make any public comment on, at least not until they need to apply to the FCC to renew its license in 2022.

    Assuming they can't use reverse band from 103, and assuming Directv believes D10 is unlikely to experience further issues that compromise its CONUS payload, I think the odds are decent that after the MPEG2 SD shutdown in 2019 D15 will move to 101 and replace D8 & D9S. There would be several advantages to Directv to do this. D15 has full power spot beams directed at Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Right now, customers in Puerto Rico can't receive 101 at all, and customers in Hawaii receive 101 at reduced power and thus require the special one meter Alaska/Hawaii dish. If they were able to receive 101 at full power, customers who need to receive only 99/101/103 and not 119 could use a standard Slimline dish, since D10/D11/D12/D14 already reach Hawaii at full power.

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