EchoStar Satellite Condition Information

kstuart

kstuart

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I came across the following information gathered from EchoStar Annual Reports and thought it would be nice to have as a reference that would be searchable on the site:

EchoStar III

Power converters: Certain of the electric power converters (EPCs) on EchoStar III are operating at higher than expected temperatures. The high EPC temperatures may require certain transponders on EchoStar III to be turned off for several weeks during summer and winter solstice seasons to avoid overheating.
As a result, EchoStar III is operated at 120 watts per channel, which is typical for 42-cm dish service to the continental United States. If the satellite were operated at a "super high" 230 watts per channel, approximately half of its 16 channel capacity would be unavailable during solstice seasons by the end of the satellite's planned life.
Transponders: During January 2004, a TWTA pair on EchoStar III failed, resulting in a loss of service on one of EchoStar's licensed transponders. Including the seven TWTA pairs that malfunctioned in prior years, these anomalies have resulted in the failure of a total of 16 TWTAs on the satellite to date. While originally designed to operate a maximum of 32 transponders at any given time, the satellite was equipped with a total of 44 TWTAs to provide redundancy. EchoStar III can now operate a maximum of 28 transponders. Because of redundancy switching limitations and the specific channel authorisations, currently it can only operate on 17 of the 19 frequencies at 61.5 degrees West authorised by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
EchoStar Annual Reports

Last modified: 02 May 2004

EchoStar IV

The south solar array on EchoStar IV did not properly deploy after arriving in orbit, resulting in a reduction of power available to operate certain transponders on the satellite. But that was just the start of an apparently never-ending string of failures and anomalies.
  • During May 1999, EchoStar IV experienced anomalies affecting transponders, heating systems and the fuel system.
  • In July 1999, additional fuel system anomalies were confirmed.
  • By 31 October 2000, a total of 26 transponders of 44 aboard failed.
  • By 30 June 2002, 38 transponders had failed. Only six transponders were available for use at this time.
Currently no programming is being transmitted to customers on EchoStar IV, and the satellite functions as an in-orbit spare. According to EchoStar's annual report 2002, "the estimated total remaining useful life of EchoStar IV is two to three years."
While causes for the anomalies on EchoStar III and IV have not been definitively established, it appears that the problems relate to design and construction of the satellites.

EchoStar V

Summary: The satellite was originally designed with a minimum 12-year design life. Momentum wheel failures in prior years, together with relocation of the satellite between orbital locations, resulted in increased fuel consumption. These issues have not impacted commercial operation of the satellite, but have reduced the remaining spacecraft life to less than two years as of 30 June 2007.
Momentum wheels: In July 2001, EchoStar V experienced the loss of one of its three momentum wheels. Two momentum wheels are utilized during normal operations and a spare wheel was switched in at the time. A second momentum wheel experienced an anomaly in December 2003 and was switched out resulting in operation of the spacecraft in a modified mode utilizing thrusters to maintain spacecraft pointing. While this operating mode provides adequate performance, it results in an increase in fuel usage and a corresponding reduction of spacecraft life.
Thrusters: During August 2001, one of the thrusters on EchoStar V experienced an anomalous event resulting in a temporary interruption of service. The satellite was quickly restored to normal operations mode. The satellite is equipped with "a substantial number" of backup thrusters.
TWTAs: Unlike almost every other satellite operator, EchoStar even gives details about the health of its satellites' travelling-wave-tube amplifiers (TWTAs). Until 30 June 2001, two of them had to be replaced with spares. During the third quarter 2001, another TWTA "experienced unusually high telemetry readings and as a precaution, during September 2001 EchoStar substituted that TWTA with a spare."
EchoStar V is equipped with 48 TWTAs, including 16 spares.
Solar arrays: The satellite has a total of approximately 96 solar array strings. Prior to 2007, EchoStar V experienced anomalies resulting in the loss of seven solar array strings. In June 2007, the satellite lost an additional solar array string. The solar array anomalies have not impacted commercial operation of the satellite until mid-2007. Since the satellite only has a remaining life of less than two years, the solar array failures (which would normally have resulted in a reduction in the number of transponders to which power can be provided in later years), are not expected to reduce the current remaining life of the satellite.
Telemetry: During January 2003, EchoStar V experienced an anomaly in a spacecraft electronic component which affects the ability to receive telemetry from certain on-board equipment. Other methods of communication have been established to alleviate the effects of the failed component.
EchoStar SEC Filings

Last modified: 12 August 2007

3/31/08 Filing adds:

During first quarter 2008, the satellite lost two additional solar array strings. The solar array anomalies have not impacted commercial operation of the satellite to date. Since EchoStar V will be fully depreciated in October 2008, the solar array failures (which will result in a reduction in the number of transponders to which power can be provided in later years), have not reduced the remaining useful life of the satellite

EchoStar VI

Thrusters, transponders: During April 2001, EchoStar VI experienced a series of anomalous events resulting in a temporary interruption of service. As a result of the anomaly, EchoStar believes that one stationkeeping thruster and a pair of transponders are unusable.
Space Systems/Loral has advised EchoStar that it believes that the anomaly was isolated to one stationkeeping thruster, and that while further failures are possible, SS/L does not believe it is likely that additional thrusters will be impacted.
Solar arrays: EchoStar VI has also joined the growing number of SS/L satellites that developed problems with their solar arrays. The satellite, which had already lost two strips during 2001, in August 2002 "experienced anomalies resulting in the loss of an additional solar array string. The satellite has a total of approximately 112 solar array strings and approximately 106 are required to assure full power availability for the 12-year design life of the satellite," according to an EchoStar filing with the U.S. Securitites and Exchange Commission (SEC).

EchoStar VIII

Thrusters: During 2002, two of the thrusters on EchoStar VIII experienced anomalous events and are not currently in use. During March 2003, an additional thruster on EchoStar VIII experienced an anomalous event and is not currently in use. The satellite is equipped with a total of 12 thrusters that help control spacecraft location, attitude, and pointing and is currently operating using a combination of the other nine thrusters. This workaround requires more frequent maneuvers to maintain the satellite at its specified orbital location, which are less efficient and therefore result in accelerated fuel use. In addition, the workaround has resulted in certain gyroscopes being utilized for aggregate periods of time substantially in excess of their originally qualified limits. However, neither of these workarounds are expected to reduce the estimated design life of the satellite to less than 12 years. An investigation of the thruster anomalies, including the development of additional workarounds for long term operations, is continuing. None of these events has impacted commercial operation of the satellite to date.
Solar arrays: EchoStar VIII is equipped with two solar arrays which rotate continuously to maintain optimal exposure to the sun. During June and July 2003, EchoStar VIII experienced anomalies that temporarily halted rotation of one of the solar arrays. In December 2003 the other array experienced a similar anomaly. Both arrays are currently fully functional, but rotating in a mode recommended by the satellite manufacturer which allows full rotation but is different than the originally prescribed mode.
Battery: During September 2003, a single battery cell on EchoStar VIII exhibited reduced capacity. There are 72 battery cells on EchoStar VIII and all loads can be maintained for the full design life of the satellite with up to two battery cells fully failed. An investigation of the battery cell anomaly, which has not impacted commercial operation of the satellite, is underway.
EchoStar Annual Report 2003

Last modified: 02 May 2004

EchoStar X.

EchoStar X’s 49 spot beams use up to 42 active 140 watt TWTAs to provide standard and HD local channels and other programming to markets across the United States. During January 2008, the satellite experienced an anomaly which resulted in the failure of one solar array circuit out of a total of 24 solar array circuits, approximately 22 of which are required to assure full power for the original minimum 12-year design life of the satellite. The cause of the failure is still being investigated.
EchoStar 10k filing February 2008
Information collected by Satellite News Digest from public EchoStar filings and by SatelliteGuys members.

 
Last edited:
skysurfer

skysurfer

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I guess the researcher needs to update his/her records. Echostar X's failure info is missing and it has been in at least the last quarterly financial filing if not longer where I learned about it.
 
kstuart

kstuart

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I guess the researcher needs to update his/her records. Echostar X's failure info is missing and it has been in at least the last quarterly financial filing if not longer where I learned about it.

I think you have the wrong satellite - I have not heard about any EchoStar X problems.

The only references in the quarterly SEC filings start with IF :

if our EchoStar X satellite experienced a significant failure,...
 
RandallA

RandallA

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I don't see anything in your post stating some problems on Echostar V earlier this year, maybe that's what he's referring to.
 
kstuart

kstuart

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Yes, in the 3/31/08 filing, there is this about EchoStar V:

During first quarter 2008, the satellite lost two additional solar array strings. The solar array anomalies have not impacted commercial operation of the satellite to date. Since EchoStar V will be fully depreciated in October 2008, the solar array failures (which will result in a reduction in the number of transponders to which power can be provided in later years), have not reduced the remaining useful life of the satellite
 
skysurfer

skysurfer

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I don't see anything in your post stating some problems on Echostar V earlier this year, maybe that's what he's referring to.

I was referring to Echostar X. Somewhere, I picked up and put in my notes that Echostar X suffered some solar array string failures.

I checked the latest DISH filing and couldn't find it, and I can't recall what source I found it - might have been SATS? Since it's coming up on earnings season again, I'll wait and see if the info shows up in the next DISH or SATS filing or if I may be mistaken about what satellite was involved with the latest round of solar array string failures.
 
skysurfer

skysurfer

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found it: from DISH 10-K filing in February 2008:

EchoStar X. EchoStar X’s 49 spot beams use up to 42 active 140 watt TWTAs to provide standard and HD local channels and other programming to markets across the United States. During January 2008, the satellite experienced an anomaly which resulted in the failure of one solar array circuit out of a total of 24 solar array circuits, approximately 22 of which are required to assure full power for the original minimum 12-year design life of the satellite. The cause of the failure is still being investigated.

 
S

Smith P.

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KS, will be beneficial to add line: position/date for each existing sat ?
It will show moves and how long they did stay at each point.
Thanks for the compilation.
 
nelson61

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People say Charlie plays fast and loose but they are in a class by themselves in providing full disclosure. You will not see this detail in competitor reports.
 
kstuart

kstuart

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Nov 5, 2006
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Northern California
KS, will be beneficial to add line: position/date for each existing sat ?
It will show moves and how long they did stay at each point.
Thanks for the compilation.

It's not my intention to create a satellite history or database, such things exist on the Internet ( see the source link in the first post, for starters ).

I just wanted to gather all the condition information, because EchoStar now has no backup satellites at all, and so that information is quite relevant for today.

It occurred to me just now that I should include "lack of capability by design". Starting with EchoStar 5, almost all DBS satellites included the capability for 32 transponders, both odd and even, because it became clear that they might be moved to other positions for other uses.

EchoStar 1 only has odd numbered tranponder frequencies, and EchoStar 3 has a similar limitation, I'm not sure about EchoStar 4. EchoStar 10, being so specialized may not be designed for general use, I'll have to check on all these.
 
skysurfer

skysurfer

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Dec 1, 2006
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People say Charlie plays fast and loose but they are in a class by themselves in providing full disclosure. You will not see this detail in competitor reports.

you got that right! I've been trying to find DIRECTV sat failure reports and they seem to not be disclosed very often in financial filings.

As in investor in both DISH and DTV, I like DISH's disclosure and DTV not so much (satellites are as much of DTV's business as DISH's, so there should be better disclosure of satellite health from DTV, IMHO).
 
kstuart

kstuart

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More info that I ran across in a 2007 SEC filing:
EchoStar I. EchoStar I can operate up to 16 transponders at 130 watts per channel. Prior to 2007, the satellite experienced anomalies resulting in the possible loss of two solar array strings. An investigation of the anomalies is continuing. The anomalies have not impacted commercial operation of the satellite to date. Even if permanent loss of the two solar array strings is confirmed, the original minimum 12-year design life of the satellite is not expected to be impacted since the satellite is equipped with a total of 104 solar array strings, only approximately 98 of which are required to assure full power availability for the design life of the satellite. However, there can be no assurance future anomalies will not cause further losses which could impact the remaining life or commercial operation of the satellite. See discussion of evaluation of impairment in “Long-Lived Satellite Assets” below.
EchoStar II. EchoStar II can operate up to 16 transponders at 130 watts per channel. During February 2007, the satellite experienced an anomaly which prevented its north solar array from rotating. Functionality was restored through a backup system. The useful life of the satellite has not been affected and the anomaly is not expected to result in the loss of power to the satellite. However, if the backup system fails, a partial loss of power would result which could impact the useful life or commercial operation of the satellite. See discussion of evaluation of impairment in “Long-Lived Satellite Assets” below.
EchoStar III. EchoStar III was originally designed to operate a maximum of 32 transponders at approximately 120 watts per channel, switchable to 16 transponders operating at over 230 watts per channel, and was equipped with a total of 44 transponders to provide redundancy. As a result of past traveling wave tube amplifier (“TWTA”) failures on EchoStar III, TWTA anomalies caused 26 transponders to fail leaving a maximum of 18 transponders currently available for use. Due to redundancy switching limitations and specific channel authorizations, we can only operate on 15 of the 19 FCC authorized frequencies allocated to EchoStar III at the 61.5 degree location. While we do not expect a large number of additional TWTAs to fail in any year, and the failures have not reduced the original minimum 12-year design life of the satellite, it is likely that additional TWTA failures will occur from time to time in the future, and those failures will further impact commercial operation of the satellite. See discussion of evaluation of impairment in “Long-Lived Satellite Assets” below.
EchoStar IV. EchoStar IV currently operates at the 77 degree orbital location, which is licensed by the government of Mexico to a venture in which we hold a minority interest. The satellite was originally designed to operate a maximum of 32 transponders at approximately 120 watts per channel, switchable to 16 transponders operating at over 230 watts per channel. As a result of past TWTA failures, only six transponders are currently available for use and the satellite has been fully depreciated. There can be no assurance that further material degradation, or total loss of use, of EchoStar IV will not occur in the immediate future. See discussion of evaluation of impairment in “Long-Lived Satellite Assets” below.
EchoStar V. EchoStar V was originally designed with a minimum 12-year design life. Momentum wheel failures in prior years, together with relocation of the satellite between orbital locations, resulted in increased fuel consumption, as previously disclosed. These issues have not impacted commercial operation of the satellite. However, as a result of these anomalies and the relocation of the satellite, during 2005, we reduced the remaining estimated useful life of this satellite. Prior to 2007, EchoStar V also experienced anomalies resulting in the loss of seven solar array strings. During 2007, the satellite lost three additional solar array strings, one in June and two in October. The solar array anomalies have not impacted commercial operation of the satellite to date. Since EchoStar V will be fully depreciated in October 2008, the solar array failures (which will result in a reduction in the number of transponders to which power can be provided in later years), have not reduced the remaining useful life of the satellite. However, there can be no assurance that future anomalies will not cause further losses which could impact commercial operation, or the remaining life, of the satellite. See discussion of evaluation of impairment in "Long-Lived Satellite Assets” below.
EchoStar VI. EchoStar VI, which is being used as an in-orbit spare, was originally equipped with 108 solar array strings, approximately 102 of which are required to assure full power availability for the original minimum 12-year useful life of the satellite. Prior to 2007, EchoStar VI experienced anomalies resulting in the loss of 17 solar array strings. During the fourth quarter 2007, five additional solar array strings failed, reducing the number of functional solar array strings to 86. While the useful life of the satellite has not been affected, commercial operability has been reduced. The satellite was designed to operate 32 transponders at approximately 125 watts per channel, switchable to 16 transponders operating at approximately 225 watts per channel. The power reduction resulting from the solar array failures which currently limits us to operation of a maximum of 26 transponders in standard power mode, or 13 transponders in high power mode, is expected to decrease to 25 and 12, respectively, by September 2008. The number of transponders to which power can be provided is expected to continue to decline in the future at the rate of approximately one transponder every three years. See discussion of evaluation of impairment in “Long-Lived Satellite Assets” below.
EchoStar VII. During 2006, EchoStar VII experienced an anomaly which resulted in the loss of a receiver. Service was quickly restored through a spare receiver. These receivers process signals sent from our uplink center, for transmission back to earth by the satellite. The design life of the satellite has not been affected and the anomaly is not expected to result in the loss of other receivers on the satellite. However, there can be no assurance future anomalies will not cause further receiver losses which could impact the useful life or commercial operation of the satellite. In the event the spare receiver placed in operation following the 2006 anomaly also fails, there would be no impact to the satellite’s ability to provide service to the continental United States (“CONUS”) when operating in CONUS mode. However, we would lose one-fifth of the spot beam capacity when operating in spot beam mode. See discussion of evaluation of impairment in “Long-Lived Satellite Assets” below.
EchoStar VIII. EchoStar VIII was designed to operate 32 transponders at approximately 120 watts per channel, switchable to 16 transponders operating at approximately 240 watts per channel. EchoStar VIII also includes spot-beam technology. This satellite has experienced several anomalies since launch, but none have reduced the 12-year estimated useful life of the satellite. However, there can be no assurance that future anomalies will not cause further losses which could materially impact its commercial operation, or result in a total loss of the satellite. We depend on leased capacity on EchoStar VIII to provide service to CONUS at least until such time as our EchoStar XI satellite has commenced commercial operation, which is currently expected mid-year 2008. In the event that EchoStar VIII experienced a total or substantial failure, we could transmit many, but not all, of those channels from other in-orbit satellites. See discussion of evaluation of impairment in “Long-Lived Satellite Assets” below.
EchoStar IX. EchoStar IX was designed to operate 32 FSS transponders operating at approximately 110 watts per channel, along with transponders that can provide services in the Ka-Band (a “Ka-band payload”). The satellite also includes a C-band payload which is owned by a third party. Prior to 2007, EchoStar IX experienced the loss of one of its three momentum wheels, two of which are utilized during normal operations. A spare wheel was switched in at the time and the loss did not reduce the 12-year estimated useful life of the satellite. During September 2007, the satellite experienced anomalies resulting in the loss of three solar array strings. An investigation of the anomalies is continuing. The anomalies have not impacted commercial operation of the satellite to date. However, there can be no assurance future anomalies will not cause further losses, which could impact the remaining life or commercial operation of the satellite. See discussion of evaluation of impairment in “Long-Lived Satellite Assets” below.
EchoStar X. EchoStar X’s 49 spot beams use up to 42 active 140 watt TWTAs to provide standard and HD local channels and other programming to markets across the United States. During January 2008, the satellite experienced an anomaly which resulted in the failure of one solar array circuit out of a total of 24 solar array circuits, approximately 22 of which are required to assure full power for the original minimum 12-year design life of the satellite. The cause of the failure is still being investigated. The design life of the satellite has not been affected. However, there can be no assurance future anomalies will not cause further losses, which could impact commercial operation of the satellite or its useful life. In the event our EchoStar X satellite experienced a significant failure, we would lose the ability to deliver local network channels in many markets. While we would attempt to minimize the number of lost markets through the use of spare satellites and programming line up changes, some markets would be without local channels until a replacement satellite with similar spot beam capability could be launched and operational.​
EchoStar XII. EchoStar XII was designed to operate 13 transponders at 270 watts per channel, in CONUS mode, or 22 spot beams using a combination of 135 and 65 watt TWTAs. We currently operate the satellite in CONUS mode. EchoStar XII has a total of 24 solar array circuits, approximately 22 of which are required to assure full power for the original minimum 12-year design life of the satellite. Since late 2004, eight solar array circuits on EchoStar XII have experienced anomalous behavior resulting in both temporary and permanent solar array circuit failures. The cause of the failures is still being investigated. The design life of the satellite has not been affected. However, these temporary and permanent failures have resulted in a reduction in power to the satellite which will preclude us from using the full complement of transponders on EchoStar XII for the 12-year design life of the satellite. The extent of this impact is being investigated. There can be no assurance future anomalies will not cause further losses, which could further impact commercial operation of the satellite or its useful life.
 

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