Satellite to be junked because lunar flyby is patented

A satellite is being abandoned in orbit because its position can't be corrected without violating a Boeing patent on lunar flyby:

The AMC-14 commercial geostationary satellite was launched in March by a Proton launch vehicle into space just short of its minimum geostationary transfer orbit (GTO)…

However, SpaceDaily has now learned that a plan to salvage AMC-14 was abandoned a week ago when SES gave up in the face of patent issues relating to the lunar flyby process used to bring wayward GEO birds back to GEO Earth orbit.

Sources have told SpaceDaily that it was possible to bring AMC-14 back via the moon to a stable GEO orbit where the high powered satellite would have been able to operate for at four years and probably longer.

Industry sources have told SpaceDaily that the patent is regarded as legally "trite", as basic physics has been rebranded as a "process", and that the patent wouldn't stand up to any significant level of court scrutiny and was only registered at the time because "the patent office was incompetent when it came to space matters".


(via /.)

(Image: Patents are only for the old machine, a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike licensed image from Adulau's Flickr stream)