Lockheed, EchoStar Retire Disconnected Comms Satellite

Lockheed Martin and EchoStar have retrieved the EchoStar III communications satellite in a joint operation that culminated in its deactivation and relocation to a graveyard orbit.

The satellite’s retirement was executed in line with Federal Communications Commission rules in response to an incident involving the satellite in July, Lockheed said Wednesday.

EchoStar unveiled in early August that it experienced an interruption in communications with EchoStar III following an “anomaly of unknown origin” as the satellite was being moved to a different orbital location.

“After the initial loss of contact… a command-and-control link was reestablished and deorbit maneuvers performed,” said Derek de Bastos, chief technology officer at EchoStar’s satellite services unit.

“EchoStar III is now safely in a graveyard orbit more than [217 miles] above the geostationary arc with its fuel and pressurants depleted, batteries drained and systems shut down,” he added.

The Lockheed-manufactured EchoStar III served approximately 20 years of providing coverage over the U.S., exceeding its original 15-year lifespan.

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