The Federal Communications Commission is fining Dish Network over space junk, the first such fine for the agency.
The FCC has entered an agreement with Dish Network for the latter to pay a $150,000 civil penalty over its direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service EchoStar-7 satellite. The satellite was end-of-life requiring it be moved to a “disposal orbit.” Dish evidently failed to take the appropriate action, resulting in the fine.
Specifically, DISH disposed of the EchoStar-7 satellite at 122 kilometers (km) above its operational geostationary orbit, short of the 300 km above its operational geostationary orbit specified in its orbital debris mitigation plan in DISH’s license. Orbital debris in space jeopardizes the nation’s terrestrial and space-based communication systems by increasing the risk of damage to satellite communications systems. Therefore, it is important for the Commission to ensure that satellite licensees meet post-mission disposal requirements in a manner compliant with their authorizations. To settle this matter, DISH admits that it failed to operate the EchoStar-7 satellite in accordance with its authorization, will implement a compliance plan, and will pay a $150,000 civil penalty.
Space junk is a growing problem and the FCC is clearly signaling that companies must start doing their part to address the problem.
“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.”