Session

Technical Session 2: Next on the Pad

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

Small satellite innovation has advanced rapidly over the past decade, and regulators are working hard to keep up. In August 2020, a new streamlined licensing process became available at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for certain small satellite missions to bring satellite licensing procedures up to date with technological innovation. This new optional licensing process applies to small satellites meeting certain criteria, such as a constellation of ten or fewer satellites, a wet mass of 180 kg or less, a shorter in-orbit lifetime, and a low orbital debris risk. The streamlined licensing process provides for reduced fees and decreased regulatory barriers for qualifying satellite operators, enabling the deployment of low-cost commercial satellite systems that were previously untenable under the FCC’s rules. This new process provides operators with an intermediate licensing option in addition to the FCC’s existing processes for satellite authorization, including its experimental, amateur, and standard Part 25 commercial satellite licensing procedures, giving small satellite operators flexibility to choose the licensing procedure that best matches their operational and spectrum needs. Operators with satellite systems meeting the criteria for streamlined licensing have already started to apply for FCC authorizations, and there are lessons to be learned from FCC review and grant of these early applications.

The rules governing orbital debris mitigation, space situational awareness and space traffic management have also evolved. In addition to the FCC, satellite licensing involves a variety of other federal agencies. As part of the FCC authorization process, the FCC will coordinate spectrum use with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) if federal systems operate in the same spectrum. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licenses commercial launch and reentry vehicles well as commercial spaceports. Commercial remote sensing satellites require a license from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Departments of Commerce and State license exports of space technology.

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 9th, 11:30 AM

Small Satellite Regulation in 2021

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Small satellite innovation has advanced rapidly over the past decade, and regulators are working hard to keep up. In August 2020, a new streamlined licensing process became available at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for certain small satellite missions to bring satellite licensing procedures up to date with technological innovation. This new optional licensing process applies to small satellites meeting certain criteria, such as a constellation of ten or fewer satellites, a wet mass of 180 kg or less, a shorter in-orbit lifetime, and a low orbital debris risk. The streamlined licensing process provides for reduced fees and decreased regulatory barriers for qualifying satellite operators, enabling the deployment of low-cost commercial satellite systems that were previously untenable under the FCC’s rules. This new process provides operators with an intermediate licensing option in addition to the FCC’s existing processes for satellite authorization, including its experimental, amateur, and standard Part 25 commercial satellite licensing procedures, giving small satellite operators flexibility to choose the licensing procedure that best matches their operational and spectrum needs. Operators with satellite systems meeting the criteria for streamlined licensing have already started to apply for FCC authorizations, and there are lessons to be learned from FCC review and grant of these early applications.

The rules governing orbital debris mitigation, space situational awareness and space traffic management have also evolved. In addition to the FCC, satellite licensing involves a variety of other federal agencies. As part of the FCC authorization process, the FCC will coordinate spectrum use with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) if federal systems operate in the same spectrum. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licenses commercial launch and reentry vehicles well as commercial spaceports. Commercial remote sensing satellites require a license from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Departments of Commerce and State license exports of space technology.