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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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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."

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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