As satellites and space junk proliferate, the US must revise the rules

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WASHINGTON: With Earth’s orbit becoming increasingly crowded with satellites, a U.S. government agency said Friday it would begin revising decades-old rules for the disposal of space debris and for other things such as refueling satellites and inspecting and repairing them. of spacecraft in orbit.

“We believe the new space age needs new rules,” Jessica Rosenworcel, chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said after the 4-0 FCC vote, adding that the current rules are “largely built for a different era.” “.

She said the FCC “must ensure that our rules are prepared for the proliferation of satellites in orbit and new activities at our higher altitudes.”

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The FCC also plans to look at “new ways to clean up orbital debris. After all, there are thousands of tons of junk in space,” Rosenworcel added. The FCC will look at “the potential for orbital debris remediation and removal functions that offer”

the prospect of improvement in the orbital debris environment.”

The FCC raises questions about maintenance, assembly, and manufacturing in space (ISAM), including things like “repairing and refueling satellites and even assembling entirely new systems in orbit,” Rosenworcel said.

The proceedings will look at efforts to transform materials through space production and ISAM spectrum needs.

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“The FCC remains the only agency to license virtually every commercial space mission that touches the United States,” said FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. “With that power comes the responsibility to understand the missions we authorize and create a stimulating regulatory environment that opens new doors while protecting against new risks.”

Starks said continuing “will help us build the record we need to fully understand emerging ISAM technologies, their spectrum requirements (and) their implications for debris.”

The FCC said ISAM “has the potential to build entire industries, create new jobs, mitigate climate change, and advance America’s economic, scientific, technological and national security interests.”

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The FCC is already updating its satellite rules and has previously passed new rules to help satellite launchers access spectrum for broadcasts “from space launch vehicles during pre-launch testing and spaceflight.”

start operations.”

The FCC granted an experimental license to NanoRacks LLC in November to communicate with an experimental component attached to the second stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch.

vehicle “to demonstrate metal cutting in space.”

The FCC said the proceeding will play an eventual role in assessing “planetary protection plans and implications” for missions.

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