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FCC issues first-ever fine for leaving junk in space

A satellite in space. Dish Network will pay the price for failing to move its EchoStar-7 satellite out of harm’s way. | Shutterstock

The FCC has issued its first fine for space junk to Dish Network for not properly deorbiting its satellite. The company admitted it was liable for not shifting its EchoStar-7 to a safer spot and will pay a penalty of $150,000 and implement a compliance plan.

Space debris — non-functioning manmade materials floating around space — can pose a hazard to working infrastructure, including the ISS, which has had run-ins with debris in the past. According to the FCC, defunct satellites like Dish’s can also interfere with “the nation’s terrestrial and space-based communication systems by increasing the risk of damage to satellite communications systems.”

“This is a breakthrough settlement, making very clear the FCC has strong enforcement…

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