EchoStar Corp. said contact with EchoStar III, one of the older satellites in its fleet, has been interrupted and intermittent amid an “anomaly of unknown origin” that entered play after the bird was moved to a new orbital location last week.
Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, EchoStar III is a Ku-band BSS satellite that provided coverage over the U.S. Launched on Oct. 5, 1997 aboard an Atlas IIAS rocket, it has already exceeded its expected 15-year design life, and has been “operating in an inclined orbit for more than three years.” That inclined orbit is a tactic that saves fuel, according to SpaceNews.
"EchoStar has received FCC authority for its current flight configuration and we are working in cooperation with the satellite manufacturer to re-establish a reliable link in order to recover and retire the spacecraft," Derek de Bastos, chief technology officer for EchoStar Satellite Services, said in a statement. "In spite of the anomaly, we believe that the current EchoStar III orbit does not present a significant risk to the operating satellites in the geostationary arc."
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EchoStar noted that the satellite is a “fully depreciated, non-revenue generating asset.”
SpaceNews noted that the anomaly affecting EchoStar III followed one on the weekend of June 17 that affected SES’s AMC-9 satellite.