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DirecTV Fined $87,500 for Satellite Move

DirecTV Fined $87,500 for Satellite Move

Clear instructions can make a difference, as DirecTV is finding out.
The FCC proposed a fine of $87,500 for DirecTV, Inc. for repositioning a satellite to an unauthorized orbit, and then repairing there. DirecTV had asked the agency for permission to move the satellite, but according to the agency, the company admits that its employees began repositioning the satellite the next day, without waiting for commission approval.
DirecTV wanted to move its bird from a super-synchronous storage orbit 30 kilometers above the geostationary orbit, to a Canadian-assigned orbital location. The company started moving the satellite, then stopped to meet with commission staff. It then asked for and received permission to move the bird again to reduce the risk of hitting another satellite.
DirecTV said staff misinterpreted an “ambiguous” memo from management directing them to plan the move, but not actually move the satellite until the FCC gave permission.
The company told the commission it now has a better process to manage future proposed satellite moves to other orbits.
In setting the amount of the forfeiture, the commission stated that strict adherence to the rules governing satellite positioning is critical to minimizing the risk of collisions between satellites.