EchoStar III Satellite Recovered, Placed in ‘Graveyard Orbit’

EchoStar Corp. and Lockheed Martin said this week that one of the older satellites in EchoStar’s fleet has been successfully recovered following an unspecified “anomaly” that occurred in July that caused communications with the bird to be interrupted.

Per FCC regulations, that satellite, EchoStar III, has been retired and placed into “graveyard orbit,” they said.

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"After the initial loss of contact, with a joint effort by EchoStar and Lockheed Martin, a command and control link was reestablished and deorbit maneuvers performed," Derek de Bastos, chief technology officer for EchoStar Satellite Services LLC, said in a statement.” "EchoStar III is now safely in a graveyard orbit more than 350 kilometers above the geostationary arc with its fuel and pressurants depleted, batteries drained, and systems shut down."

EchoStar III, a Ku-band BSS satellite, provided coverage over the U.S., and is a “fully depreciated, non-revenue generating asset.”

The satellite, launched in 1997 and built by Lockheed Martin, exceeded its 15 year design life, EchoStar said.

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"Because of the robustness of the A2100 satellite design, our teams were able to command all the necessary recovery actions," added Barry Noakes, commercial satellite chief engineer at Lockheed Martin.