‘Zombie satellite’ that has been orbiting earth since 1967 discovered by Amateur Radio Operator

A “zombie satellite” orbiting earth since 1967 when it was launched by the U.S. military, has been discovered by a radio enthusiast.

NPR reports that the discovery was made by amateur radio operator Scott Tilley, who lives in British Columbia, Canada.

“Well folks, here’s what appears to be a new ZOMBIE SAT!” Tilley tweeted on March 24. Satellite LES-5, he explained, is in a “GEO [Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit] graveyard orbit.”

Tilley also noted subsequent passes by LES-5.Scott Tilley@coastal8049 · 

Well folks, here’s what appears to be a new ZOMBIE SAT!

LES-5 [2866, 1967-066E] in a GEO graveyard orbit.

Confirmation will occur at ~0445 UTC this evening when the satellite should pass through eclipse.

If so this is definitely the oldest emitting GEOsat I know of.

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Scott Tilley@coastal8049

https://twitter.com/coastal8049/status/1247079046103498759 …Scott Tilley@coastal8049LES-5 has set behind the mountains to my east thus concluding data collection.

Here’s the final full pass summary.

Decoding of the telemetry data will occur over the next few days.
3Twitter Ads info and privacySee Scott Tilley’s other Tweets

Graveyard orbit — where old satellites go to die —  is about 22,400 miles above the earth, according to NASA, which notes that this is almost 200 miles farther from our planet than the farthest active satellites.

Satellite illustration.

Satellite illustration. (iStock)

The U.N.’s Online Index of Objects Launched Into Outer Space, lists LES-5 as being in geosynchronous orbit.

LES-5 launched on July 1, 1967, according to NASA. Built by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, the satellite was part of the Department of Defense’s Tri-Service Program 591.

Citing data from the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Geospatial World reported that almost 5,000 satellites orbited around the earth at the start of 2019.