The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined satellite TV company Dish Network $150,000 for failing to properly dispose of one of its satellites. This is the first time federal regulators have issued such a penalty.
The FCC’s investigation centred on a satellite called EchoStar-7, which was launched to geostationary orbit in 2002.
As a result, the satellite is now dead in an orbit only about 76 miles (122 kilometres) above the active areas in geostationary orbit.
The FCC said that Dish’s failure to properly dispose of EchoStar-7 “jeopardizes the nation’s terrestrial and space-based communication systems by increasing the risk of damage to satellite communications systems”.
Dish has admitted liability for the violation and has agreed to pay the fine.
There are nearly 700,000 pieces of uncontrolled rubbish larger than 0.4 inch (1 centimetre) in Earth’s orbit.