Satellite Operators See No Threat from Feb. 15 Asteroid Flyby

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PARIS — The nonprofit Space Data Association (SDA) of satellite operators on Feb. 13 said the asteroid 2012 DA14 scheduled to make a close flyby of Earth Feb. 15 will not pass within 1,000 kilometers of any space object and will create no debris in any Earth orbit.

The SDA further said none of its members’ satellites, nor any of the U.S. GPS or Russian Glonass positioning, navigation and timing spacecraft, will be within 5,630 kilometers of the asteroid.

“For reference, satellite operators are normally concerned with uncoordinated flybys of less than 10 kilometers,” SDA said in a statement.

T.S. Kelso, operations manager of the SDA’s automated Space Data Center, said in a statement that “of all the ways for an asteroid to pass between Earth and the geostationary belt, we are fortunate that DA14 will follow on of the safest possible routes.”

Most telecommunications satellites operate in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers in altitude above the equator.

Based in Britain’s Isle of Man, the SDA is a group of satellite operators, both government and commercial, that pool certain information about their fleets to improve safety and reduce possible interference.

The association has won the support of most of the world’s largest telecommunications satellite fleet operators, including Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat, EchoStar, Arabsat, Star One and Inmarsat. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States are members. These organizations have agreed that the information they share on satellite positions and orbital maneuvers disclose no competitively sensitive information.

But SDA has yet to secure support from DirecTV Group of the United States, Japan’s SkyPerfect JSat, the Russian Satellite Communications Co., the Indian Space Research Organisation and China Satcom.