The Federal Communications Commission has announced a historic settlement with Dish Network.
It marks the agency’s first penalty related to space debris.
Dish Network has admitted its liability for improperly disposing of the EchoStar-7 broadcast communications satellite.
It has agreed to pay a $150,000 fee for the settlement.
This agreement comes in the context of a growing concern surrounding space debris.
Governments and companies are launching satellites into orbit at an unprecedented rate.
Loyaan Egal, Chief of the FCC Enforcement Bureau, said: “As satellite operations become more prevalent and the space economy accelerates, we must be certain that operators comply with their commitments.”
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Dish initially launched the EchoStar-7 satellite in 2002 with plans to retire it from service in May 2022.
However, a few months before its planned retirement, Dish discovered that the satellite lacked sufficient fuel to maneuver to a disposal location.
The company had previously agreed to an “orbital debris mitigation plan” with the FCC, outlining the relocation of the satellite.
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Rather than retiring the satellite at the stipulated distance of 300 kilometers from its geostationary orbit, Dish retired it at approximately 122 kilometers.
It’s significantly short of the required disposal orbit, as noted by the FCC.
Dish Network has not yet responded to requests for comment regarding the settlement.