$150 million AMC-14 satellite written off as 'space junk'

After a rocket failure during launch, the craft pulled up 5,000 miles short of its planned target and will be retired.

A $150 million satellite which was to deliver television services to the US has been written off as a piece of 'space junk' after the 'complete failure' of its launch a month ago.

The satellite, manufactured by Lockheed-Martin and launched aboard an unmanned Russian rocket last month, was intended to deliver TV services to viewers in the US, Mexico and Central America as part of the Echo Star network.

But the failure of one of the booster rockets during the launch meant that the machine, called AMC-14, pulled up approximately 5,000 miles short of its planned altitude of 22,400 miles.

SES, the Luxembourg-based satellite group which commissioned the project, was initially hopeful that it may be able to reposition the satellite into its "intended geostationary orbit". In a statement today, however, the company said that changing the satellite's location was too risky, and that it had "no choice but to claim a total loss of the satellite with our insurers."
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SES said it did not expect its revenues to be affected by the write-off, however, and that the investment was "fully insured". The AMC-14 was supposed to have a service life of up to 15 years.

It was launched on March 15 aboard an unmanned rocket from the Baikonur space facility, in Kazakhstan. The Russian-owned Khrunichev State Research and Production Centre, which made the Proton-M rocket carrying the satellite, said that it was conducting a review the incident.

Mark Rigolle, the chief financial officer of SES, said: "The loss of any satellite is a disappointment, and the failure of AMC-14 means there will be no revenues from this program. We expect (however) to receive the insurance proceeds of approximately $150 million in the next few months."

SES said that AMC-14 was in a "stable orbit", but that it would soon be retired.

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