The Federal Communications Commission issued its first-ever space debris fine on Monday against satellite television company Dish Network to the tune of $150,000 over a failed deorbit.
According to a press release from the FCC, it reached a settlement with Dish following an investigation into the company’s “failure to properly deorbit its EchoStar-7 satellite.”
“This marks a first in space debris enforcement by the Commission, which has stepped up its satellite policy efforts, including establishing the Space Bureau and implementing its Space Innovation Agenda,” the FCC wrote.
It also noted that the settlement agreement included “an admission of liability from the company and an agreement to adhere to a compliance plan and pay a penalty of $150,000.”
The FCC claimed that the company’s botched deorbit violated the Communications Act and the agency’s rules. It also broke the terms of its license when it relocated the satellite “to a disposal orbit well below the elevation required by the terms of its license.” The agency noted that the lower altitude could “pose orbital debris concerns.”
“As satellite operations become more prevalent and the space economy accelerates, we must be certain that operators comply with their commitments,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan A. Egal. “This is a breakthrough settlement, making very clear the FCC has strong enforcement authority and capability to enforce its vitally important space debris rules.”
The decommissioned satellite was launched by Dish in 2002. At the end of its mission, the company had agreed to move the satellite “to an altitude of 300 kilometers (km) above its operational geostationary arc,” the FCC stated.
Dish previously estimated it would decommission the satellite in May 2022 but realized in February 2022 that it had “very little propellant left.” According to the FCC, the company could not follow its original orbital debris mitigation plan, which was approved by the agency in 2012.
Instead, the company “retired the satellite at a disposal orbit approximately 122 km above the geostationary arc, well short of the disposal orbit of 300 km specified in its orbital debris mitigation plan,” the press release added.
In a statement to USA Today, a Dish spokesperson explained that the EchoStar-7 was an older satellite “that had been explicitly exempted from the FCC’s rule requiring a minimum disposal orbit.”
“The Bureau made no specific findings that EchoStar-7 poses any orbital debris safety concerns,” the company stated. “DISH has a long track record of safely flying a large satellite fleet and takes seriously its responsibilities as an FCC licensee.”
Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!
The post FCC issues first-ever space debris fine — Dish Network to pay $150,000 for failed deorbit appeared first on TheBlaze.