Dish Network receives historic US space debris penalty from government.

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined Dish Network $150,000 for violating its anti-space debris rule. The company failed to properly de-orbit its EchoStar-7 satellite, instead sending it into a disposal orbit that posed a risk to orbital debris. This is the first fine issued by the FCC for such a violation, signaling the agency’s enforcement authority and capability in dealing with space debris. Dish launched the satellite in 2002 and had agreed to a debris mitigation plan in 2012, but due to low propellant, it was unable to send the satellite to its intended destination.

Space debris is a growing concern for the FCC as it hampers the ability of new satellites to start and complete missions. In 2022, the agency adopted a rule requiring satellite operators to dispose of their satellites within five years after mission completion. FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel has emphasized the need to address the issue of orbital debris, stating that it could limit future opportunities in space. With the increasing prevalence of satellite operations and the acceleration of the space economy, the FCC is committed to ensuring that operators comply with their commitments and mitigate the risks associated with space debris.

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