Dish Network Corp. has become the first company to face an enforcement action for littering in outer space. The Federal Communications Commission said it’s fining the pay-TV and satellite-technology company $150,000 for failing to properly de-orbit its EchoStar-7 satellite.
EchoStar, which started life as a satellite-TV equipment distributor, became Dish Network in 2008 and spun off its technology unit as EchoStar. Both companies were founded by billionaire entrepreneur Charles Ergen, who successfully pushed Dish
to merge with EchoStar in a deal unveiled in August. The FCC found that the company retired the EchoStar-7 satellite last year by leaving it to float in orbit in a location well below the elevation required by the terms of its license. Companies are required to remove such retired equipment out of the path of working satellites. The company has admitted liability and agreed to the fine and a compliance plan, the regulator said. “As satellite operations become more prevalent and the space economy accelerates, we must be certain that operators comply with their commitments,” said Loyaan A. Egal, the FCC’s enforcement bureau chief. “This is a breakthrough settlement, making very clear the FCC has strong enforcement authority and capability to enforce its vitally important space-debris rules.”