NEW YORK (CNNfn) -- AT&T said on Friday that it has been unsuccessful in its attempts to re-establish contact with Telstar 401 and has declared the satellite permanently out of service. The satellite's telemetry and communications abruptly stopped early Saturday morning, the company said.
The satellite, which began malfunctioning last weekend, was used to transmit network TV programs. The problem has been invisible to TV viewers because AT&T said it immediately restored service for customers whose contracts called for transfer of their transponder service to Telstar 402R, and restored other services as well.
In addition to traffic from ABC and other networks, the satellite carried signals from syndicators, resellers and educational networks. An AT&T spokesman said this is the first time AT&T has ever seen a satellite broadcast successfully and then fail completely.
On September 25, 1996, AT&T agreed to sell AT&T Skynet Satellite Services to Loral Space & Communications. Skynet consisted of three satellites, one of them more than ten years old. The loss of Telstar 401 significantly reduces the value of Skynet and could cost AT&T several hundred million dollars.
Telstar was launched in late 1993 and started serving customers early in 1994. It is highly unusual for a satellite to fail so quickly. The satellite was manufactured by Lockheed Martin.