Print 24 comment(s) - last by Oregonian2.. on Mar 20 at 3:02 PM

Analysts say it could take years for Dish to fully recover from a full failure

For many Americans across the country the only way to get HD channels or a decent TV signal altogether is to go with satellite TV. The two main players in the satellite TV arena are Dish Network and DirecTV.

Dish Network is currently tailing DirecTV in the amount of HD channels that its service offers. In an effort to better compete with DirecTV on HD offering Dish Network attempted to launch a new satellite to increase its available bandwidth to be able to expand its HD channel line up from the approximately 50 HD channels available now to a proposed 70-100.

The AMC-14 satellite took off Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on Friday.  While the Proton rocket launch vehicle launched successfully, the AMC-14 platform failed to reach its desired orbit.

Echostar, Dish Network's parent company, is insured for any full or partial failure of the satellite.

Broadcasting & Cable reports that International Launch Services (ILS) and a Russian state commission are investigating the failure of the satellite.  Broadcasting & Cable quotes Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett saying, “Dish Network had made it clear that HD featured prominently in their own future plans, and that they did not plan to cede ‘video superiority’ to anyone. Given the long lead times involved in contracting for, building, and launching a satellite, however, it could take years for Dish Network to fully recover.”

SES AMERICOM, the company responsible for operating the satellite, believes it can boost the platform into orbit at the expense of diminishing its service live. 

"We are confident that the engineering teams at Lockheed Martin and SES will find a way to place AMC-14 into the correct orbit in a manner that our customer’s requirements can be met," said Edward Horowitz, President and CEO of SES AMERICOM.

Dish has another pair of satellites scheduled to launch later this year, but they are to be used for local HD channels using spot-beam technology whereas AMC-14 was for non-local HD channels. DailyTech reported in October of 2007 that AT&T had plans to acquire Dish Network. Neither AT&T nor Echostar would comment on how the failed satellite will affect a potential sale.

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so when..
By jaybuffet on 3/18/2008 2:48:57 PM , Rating: 5
so when can we shoot it down

RE: so when..
By Gnoad on 3/18/2008 9:12:15 PM , Rating: 2
I was thinking the same thing. But though I'm all for testing our missile defense system, at what point would we have to worry about excessive debris floating around our planet?

RE: so when..
By Alexvrb on 3/18/2008 10:29:30 PM , Rating: 2
Depends whether you shoot it down as cleanly as possible (as we recently did) or if you're sloppy like the Chinese and leave lots of space debris.

RE: so when..
By Samus on 3/19/2008 4:20:40 AM , Rating: 5
If I had any say in it, I'd ban the Chinese from 'the' space program for basically putting every potential astronaut at risk for the remainder of orbital space travel. it'll only take one of those thousands of pieces, be it a bolt or shard, to destroy an orbiting vessel.

Besides, The USSR and the USA were there first, so we should have every right to dictate when the Chinese can and can't do in space. The international space travel community is still and will always be pissed over how the Chinese proceeded to wrecklessly shoot down a satellite with a payload carrying rocket. Stupid Stupid Stupid.

RE: so when..
By Cygni on 3/19/08, Rating: 0
RE: so when..
By idconstruct on 3/19/2008 10:25:36 PM , Rating: 2
Do you know the probability of collisions in orbit? not only do you have many times the square footage of earth in any particular orbit, but then you have countless different orbital heights (granted some heights are quite common, stationary orbits for example)

It can be boosted
By aguilpa1 on 3/18/2008 2:38:05 PM , Rating: 5
The engineers know they can boost the orbit of the satellite to its correct height but they will use a great deal of the satellites internal booster fuel reserve which is used to nudge and correct the orbit of the satellite during its lifetime. Therefore, they know it will diminish the useful lifetime of the satellite as a whole but should buy them more than enough time to have it replaced. Not sure what the insurance companies would do in that case.

RE: It can be boosted
By phattyboombatty on 3/18/2008 2:55:14 PM , Rating: 2
The big question is how much fuel will it take to get the satellite into the correct orbit and how much will the life of the satellite by shortened. You seem to assume that there will be enough fuel remaining to keep the satellite in its proper orbit until it is replaced. What is this assumption based on?

RE: It can be boosted
By trisct on 3/18/2008 3:42:56 PM , Rating: 2
The satellite isn't terribly far from its intended location, it can probably boost to its nominal location without losing more than half its operational lifespan, which was originally between 10-15 years. That's enough time to procure a replacement, this will just delay their new HD rollout by a month or so.

RE: It can be boosted
By McTwist on 3/18/2008 5:45:09 PM , Rating: 2
While it can be boosted it appears from this article that it won't be enough:

"Fuel supplies on board the satellite and the power of its engines are not enough to raise its orbit another 8,000 kilometers above the Earth to provide effective signal coverage for the designated regions of the United States."

Flying Saucer?
By MrBlastman on 3/18/2008 2:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
So Dish has this expensive object just floating along up there...

I don't think any amount of insurance settlement could cover the setback they have received here. Hopefully they come up with a solution asap.

They should name all their Dish satellites saucers though...

RE: Flying Saucer?
By Oregonian2 on 3/18/2008 3:26:52 PM , Rating: 2
DirecTV has a satellite scheduled to go up later this month as well (different outfit doing the launch, and it'll be a sea launch I think this time as well).

What I'm getting to is that DirecTV is listed as having another copy of the satellite going up that is listed as a backup satellite. I presume it's for either a bad launch or if one of the satellites in orbit have a major fault for some reason and they need a replacement ASAP.

Wonder if Dish has such a backup?

If not, perhaps DirecTV's history of having had been previously owned by a major (if not "the" major) satellite providing company is showing (Hughes).

RE: Flying Saucer?
By ksherman on 3/18/2008 3:54:37 PM , Rating: 2
First thing that came to mind was the movie Contact.

Price of outsourcing?
By mattclary on 3/18/2008 2:54:12 PM , Rating: 4
That's what they get for offshoring launch operations. ;)

RE: Price of outsourcing?
By Oregonian2 on 3/20/2008 3:02:12 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, DirecTV's satellite that went up Wednesday afternoon (and pretty much perfectly) was more literally "offshore". Went up off of a floating platform made from modifying an oil-rig platform. Rig is based in Long-beach but before launches gets sent to the equator south of Hawaii. Definitely way way offshore. That company is owned by a consortium that includes companies from the US, Norway, Ukraine, and Russia. Think they're a subcontractor for the company that had the land based failure though.

By kattanna on 3/18/2008 4:20:05 PM , Rating: 2
travel channel went HD this year and im hoping that is one of the first new HD channels. I have also been seeing ads on scifi saying now available in HD, which if/when there is a scifi HD channel would be great.

i also notice that the VOOM HD channels that dish has are of a much better quality then the "other" HD channels.

equatorHD channel showing some of their various travel shows is simply jaw dropping beautiful.

By bldckstark on 3/18/2008 5:59:43 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, VOOM definitely takes the cake, and dish too.

When I first ordered the HD package for our Dish Network system, my wife was like, "why?". Now that we have had it a while she is talking about getting more HDTV's in the house. I have had a hard time explaining that only one of the TV's could get HD.

Also, I had the Dish Dual DVR with a 100 hour system, and when I upgraded to the HDDVR it came with a 300 hour system. I kept the Dual DVR when I upgraded. I now have the capability to record 4 channels at once, and watch 4 differnt shows at the same time. If only I had four eyes. But I just had laser eye surgery so you can't call me that anymore.

has Borat taught us nothing?
By RamarC on 3/18/2008 5:56:37 PM , Rating: 2
What would you expect launching a satellite from Borat's home country of Kazakhstan!

RE: has Borat taught us nothing?
By deeznuts on 3/18/2008 7:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
Was wondering when Borat was going to make an appearance!

In-orbit refueling?
By Fnoob on 3/19/2008 12:01:19 AM , Rating: 2
Is it too stupid to consider?

RE: In-orbit refueling?
By Raidin on 3/19/2008 1:54:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yes. =)

I'm no expert, but most, if not all satellites, are not designed to be re-fueled. I also believe they are built as a one-time use object, so you can't really service them in any realistic way. Especially since they orbit the Earth, which means something has to go up there, reach the same orbit, increase it's speed to catch up, sync up speed and orbit to match it and then service it. It's so expensive and risky to do it that it's simply not practical or valuable to do so.

These things were meant to go up, do their job for a predetermined amount of time, and then die out and get replaced by something newer, if even necessary. The key point is replacement, which is why you wouldn't want to service a satellite since new technology is always right around the corner, and usually ends up being cheaper to send up a new one anyway (especially thanks to insurance).

Simple but expensive fix.
By Torched on 3/18/2008 2:38:20 PM , Rating: 2
My understanding is they can use the existing fuel onboard to correct the orbit. Problem is this will limit the lifespan of the satellite since they need that fuel to maintain the proper orbit. So the question is who will pay for the costly mistake?

By Darkskypoet on 3/18/2008 8:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
Lets say they can't boost it to where it was supposed to be, i am assuming a geosynchronous orbit... Where it is now, or where it 'could' be boosted too, is there any way to gain any utility from the sat?

As we seem to have some knowledge in the house, anyone know where it might be, and if it could serve up content to any of Dish's markets? Or would it be broadcasting to the sea people in the middle of nowhere?

I highly doubt it will be useful
By Doormat on 3/18/2008 9:26:45 PM , Rating: 2
In theory it can be boosted to a higher orbit, but based on the facts I've read so far I really don't think they'll do it.

The biggest reason why companies deorbit satellites when they fail to reach Geosynchronous transfer orbit is for insurance reasons. The company that insured the launch will pay out much less if the satellite ever operates as intended, and from a financial standpoint its better off for the company to deorbit the satellite and collect the money.

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