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EchoStar 3 in photo is similar to Echostar 7 (Drawing: Lockheed Martin)

The Federal Communications Commission of the United States has fined Dish Network $150,000 for failing to properly remove their EchoStar-7 satellite from geostationary orbit about 35,786 kilometers above the Earth. This is the first space debris enforcement in the history of spaceflight.

The settlement includes an admission of liability from Dish for leaving EchoStar-7 at 122 kilometers above its operational geostationary arc, less than halfway to where the satellite broadcaster had agreed. The satellite could pose orbital debris concerns at this lower altitude, the FCC warned.

The regulator said it approved a plan from Dish in 2012 to move the satellite at the end of its mission 300 kilometers above geostationary orbit, which is about 35,786 kilometers above the Earth.

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