The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it has issued its first space debris enforcement fine, of $150,000 for DISH which failed to properly de-orbit its EchoStar-7 satellite.
The wholly-owned unit of DISH Network admitted liability and will adhere to a compliance plan, the commission said, adding that the company’s action ‘could pose orbital debris concerns.’
The FCC has boosted its satellite policy efforts in recent years. DISH did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The FCC said DISH relocated its direct broadcast service EchoStar-7 satellite at the end-of-mission to a disposal orbit “well below the elevation required by the terms of its licence” after launching it in 2002.
FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan Egal said the announcement “is a breakthrough settlement, making very clear the FCC has strong enforcement authority and capability to enforce its vitally important space debris rules.”
Under a plan the FCC approved in 2012, DISH committed to bring the satellite at the end of its mission to an altitude of 300km above its operational geostationary arc. In February 2022, DISH said “the satellite had very little propellant left, which meant it could not follow the original orbital debris mitigation plan in its licence.”