SES Calls Satellite 'A Total Loss'

SES Americom has declared the AMC-14 satellite a "total loss" after the company and its engineers were unable to come up with "viable options" to reposition the satellite to its proper geostationary orbit. (See AMC-14 Lost.)

AMC-14 was unable to achieve its intended orbit due to a "launch anomaly" that occurred during the second burn of the fourth state of the rocket, launched March 15 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At the time, the satellite appeared to be functional and there was optimism that it could be repositioned to its intended orbit, but there were questions about how much of its expected 15-year lifespan would be lost. Its lifespan will indeed be shortened, by about fifteen years. (See Bird Problems .)

"SES and Lockheed Martin have carefully examined all the available options for repositioning this satellite into its intended geostationary orbit," SES Americom president and CEO Edward Horowitz said in a release. "Unfortunately, none of those options would allow effective use of the spacecraft. The various repositioning scenarios presented carry unacceptable risks, and would result in a severely shortened life of the satellite. Therefore, we have no choice but to claim a total loss of the satellite with our insurers."

Although no revenues will be derived from AMC-14, SES said it expects to receive $150 million in insurance proceeds, and the loss of the satellite will not have a negative P&L impact. AMC-14 is in a stable orbit, but SES is "exploring plans to retire the satellite."

What is not as clear is how this revelation might impair the high-definition television expansion plans of Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH)

Despite fears that the problems with AMC-14 could delay Dish's HD effort, the satellite TV company was confident last month that its hi-def growth plans remained "on track." (See Dish: It's All Good.)

Dish, which has two more satellites slated for launch later this year, said on March 18 that it fully expects to reach a goal of supporting 100 local HD markets and delivering 100 "national" hi-def nets by year-end.

On Friday (April 11), a Dish spokesman declined to comment on the latest news involving the AMC-14 satellite.

― Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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