The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has imposed the first-ever fine on a company that violated space debris regulations. This is reported by The Guardian with reference to the commission.
It is about the American satellite TV provider Dish Network, which failed to ensure proper deorbiting of the EchoStar-7 satellite. Now it has to pay a fine of $150 thousand.
“As satellite operations become more prevalent and the space economy accelerates, we must be certain that operators comply with their commitments,” the Communications Commission explained.
It also added that the decision is a breakthrough. It provides a clear understanding that the FCC has the authority and capacity to enforce space debris regulations.
In 2002, Dish launched the EchoStar-7 satellite into geostationary orbit. After the end of its operation, the company had to raise it to a higher orbit by 300 kilometers. According to this plan, it was not supposed to pose a threat to other active satellites.
But in 2022, the company concluded that it would not be able to send the satellite to its destination due to a lack of fuel. In the end, EchoStar-7 was only 122 km above the geostationary orbit, which is much less than the safe level.