FCC Launches “Small Satellite” Rulemaking Proceeding

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The FCC has released a notice of proposed rulemaking that seeks comment on a new authorization process within Part 25 of the Commission’s rules to govern satellite licensing that is tailored to small satellite operations. Small satellites differ from most existing government and commercial satellites in two major aspects: (1) they are incredibly small, and are measured in inches, not feet; and (2) they are exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to track using current monitoring equipment, which in turn leads to safety concerns. Technological advancements and a decrease in the cost of deployment have made small satellites more popular in recent years. This new FCC authorization process will address current needs in this evolving industry sector, as existing Commission licensing rules and processes were not developed with these types of small satellites in mind. According to an FCC news release, the notice of proposed rulemaking on small satellites will also address spectrum requirements, application fees, orbital safety matters, among other issues.

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