News Update


Dish Network receives the first-ever fine for space trash from the United States.

Dish Network was fined $150,000 (£125,000) by the Federal Communications Commission for failing to relocate an obsolete satellite far enough away from others in use.

The business agreed to a “compliance plan” with the FCC after admitting accountability for its EchoStar-7 satellite.

Space junk is made up of pieces of technology that remain in orbit around the Earth but are no longer in use, posing a threat to collisions.

Space trash, as it is officially known, consists of items like old satellites and spacecraft parts.

According to the FCC, Dish’s satellite posed a risk to other satellites orbiting the Earth at its current height.

Dish’s EchoStar-7, launched in 2002, was in geostationary orbit, which begins at 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface.

Dish was supposed to send the satellite 186 miles further away from Earth, but by the end of its life in 2022, it had only moved it 76 miles after running out of fuel.

“As satellite operations become more common and the space economy accelerates, we must ensure that operators follow through on their commitments,” said Loyaan Egal, chief of the FCC’s enforcement division.

“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 $150,000 punishment is a pittance compared to Dish’s total revenue of $16.7 billion in 2022.

According to Dr Megan Argo, senior lecturer in astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire, the fine may still have an impact on other satellite operators.

“The fact that they’ve actually used their regulatory powers for the first time is certainly likely to at least make the rest of the industry sit up and pay attention,” Dr. Argo stated.

“The fact that they used it once suggests that they will use it again.”

“The more things we have in orbit, the greater the risk of collisions resulting in high-speed debris.” “This could continue to hit other satellites, causing even more debris and possibly causing a cascade reaction,” she continued.

More than 10,000 satellites have been sent into space since the first one in 1957, with more than half of them being out of service.

According to Nasa, there are about 25,000 bits of space debris that are longer than 10cm.

Nasa CEO Bill Nelson told the BBC in July that space trash was a “major problem,” requiring the International Space Station to be relocated out of the way of debris flying over.

“Even a paint chip traveling at orbital speed, which is 17,500 miles per hour, could strike an astronaut performing a spacewalk.” “That can be fatal,” he explained.


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