LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A telecommunications satellite returned to near-Earth orbit after being sent around the moon twice in a unique attempt to use lunar gravity to put it into a useful position.

A rocket firing Sunday morning slowed the HGS-1 satellite as it hurtled back from the moon, Hughes Space and Communications Co. spokeswoman Fran Slimmer said Monday.

The burn put the satellite in a 46-hour orbit ranging in altitude from 22,300 miles to 54,932 miles. Another burn scheduled for Tuesday will begin moving the satellite into an orbit 22,300 miles up.

``Everything is going wonderful considering that this has never been done before,'' Slimmer said.

The satellite was built to provide telecommunications services for Asia. It was launched Dec. 25 on a Russian rocket that failed to put it in the proper orbit and was declared a total loss.

Hughes later devised a novel salvage operation using the moon's gravity to change the orbit.