back to article DISH must pay for bungled orbit change in landmark space debris penalty

US television provider DISH is facing a $150,000 penalty from the US Federal Communications Commission after one of its satellites was dumped into the wrong orbit at the end of operational life. The satellite EchoStar-7 was launched in 2002 and placed into a geostationary orbit. The direct broadcast spacecraft spent much of …

  1. b0llchit Silver badge

    Token punishment

    $150k,... That is not even a slap on the wrist.

    The company has a net income of more than 200 million $ per year. The fine will not solve the problem and is less than pocket money. The satellite is still wrongly placed and is still junk that will be problematic in the future.

    What a joke.

    1. tony72

      Re: Token punishment

      I'm not clear exactly what happened here.

      "As the Enforcement Bureau recognizes in the settlement, the EchoStar-7 satellite was an older spacecraft (launched in 2002) that had been explicitly exempted from the FCC's rule requiring a minimum disposal orbit. Moreover, the Bureau made no specific findings that EchoStar-7 poses any orbital debris safety concerns."

      If it was explicitly exempted, I'm not clear why they were punished at all. Was the exemption rescinded at some point? Does the fact that they filed the 300km mitigation plan, then failed to carry it out, invalidate the exemption?

  2. Primus Secundus Tertius

    Query enforcement

    I do not see that the FCC can now force the orbit to be further changed. What they have done is punishment, not enforcement.

    1. Joobloo

      Re: Query enforcement

      They have no jurisdiction in space. Iran is already fining them 2 billion so they better pay up and I fine them 1 billion

  3. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

    How much does the propellant cost?

    Seems quite possible that the fine is cheaper than the cost of the extra propellant needed to reach the correct orbit. Futile.


    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: How much does the propellant cost?

      Probably cheaper than the cost of adding the extra propellant to the launch vehicle on the pad together with the extra propellant in the satellite to get it to the correct 'graveyard' orbit on 'retirement.'

      The problem must have been one of failing to identify when there would be sufficient fuel left to change the orbit correctly and do it then, rather than an incorrect amount of fuel in the first place. Had it sprung a leak for whatever reason that would have altered the orbit and been noticed, so it was some sort of failure of the satellite management operation. Which, admittedly, is rocket science, but not one of the difficult bits.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go for true enforcement.

    "You have 2 years to move it to a graveyard orbit or deorbit entirely. If you don't, then we will - and fine you whatever it costs us to do it."

    How much would a custom mission to move it to a graveyard orbit cost, if performed by an inefficient public entity instead of a very cost-conscious company?

  5. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    I wonder if the calculus for the fine was based on an assessment that DISH should have retired the spacecraft a while earlier but opted to use propellant for station-keeping instead of orbit-raising, and so bought themselves X days/weeks/months of operational service life. And while $150K may not be hugely significant, but it may be a significant message that this sort of calculation won't work going forward.

  6. Joobloo

    US has no Jurisdiction in Space

    They need to ignore this fine the US has as much jurisdiction in space as I do. I fine them $350k now pay up! US legal system is a constant joke.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: US has no Jurisdiction in Space

      DISH is a US based entity and thus has to follow US rules. It would be hard for the US to enforce anything against a French company that launched on Ariane 5 or something though.

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