The FCC, which is aiming to clean up regions of low earth orbit (LEO) below 1,200 miles (2,000 km) altitude, has introduced new rules to change the deorbit deadline for LEO satellites after mission completion from 25 to 5 years. We are hiring.
The FCC is serious about the short-term and long-term challenges of orbital debris. Decommissioned satellites, discarded rocket cores, and other debris fill the space environment, posing challenges to current and future missions. As of the end of last year, there were over 4,800 operational satellites in orbit, the majority of which are commercial Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. A new five-year rule on deorbiting satellites means more accountability and reduces the risk of costly collisions that increase debris. The report and order adopted today require satellites completing missions or transiting in the low earth orbit region (less than 2,000 kilometers altitude) to deorbit as soon as practicable, but not later than five years after mission completion. I am requesting that This is the first concrete rule on this topic, superseding longstanding guidelines. These new rules also give satellite companies a two-year transition period. Mission durations and deorbit schedules for specific satellites are established through an application process with the International Bureau of the FCC.
Reporting and Ordering | FCC
FCC Commissioner Nathan Symington said the small timeframe within which LEO space junk could be managed and the FCC taking advantage of international multi-stakeholder compliance before an explosion of space activity awaits just over the horizon. It describes the overall mechanism used.
Let me be clear. Orbital debris is a problem, but not a crisis. yet. The operator may be allowed to wonder where the fire is. In fact, we may eventually find that aggressive debris removal techniques are more than sufficient to address the challenge of debris generation. mutual cooperation works well without our intervention. In other words, European Commission regulations may come to know that most best-in-class commercial practices are unused backstops. Innovative solutions from responsible operators who recognize that each must operate with an eye to safety and sustainability can quickly become obsolete. it could happen.
I hope so, in fact. But what we cannot do is bet on it. Hope is not a plan. Also, the past operating environment of some large high-altitude satellites is fading from memory at a speed that feels like a step change from five years ago. At the FCC, we talk a lot about spectrum pipelines. Get the satellite pipeline load. Over the next decade, private operators plan to launch tens of thousands of new satellites into orbit. A true Cambrian explosion of commercial space activity is just over the horizon. You should be ready when you arrive.
You have to seize this moment. The moment actually asks for it. The United States accounts for about 50% of her in the international space economy. Therefore, there is a regulatory hook to create a default rulebook for commercial operators worldwide, with the option of extending the orbital debris rule to anyone seeking market access. We are able to create a uniform set of clear and flexible rules for safe commercial space operations, and apply those standards to anyone seeking access to our markets. As it stands, it’s a powerful, irresistible incentive.
This is arguably the most innovative lane of American leadership in a commercial industry that could shut down if nothing is done. Our current leadership in the space economy is not forever promised. There is none. And powerful rules can be culled through consensus-driven, multi-stakeholder organization, constrained by heckling vetoes. There is a good chance that you will miss this opportunity.
Commissioner Nathan Symington Statement | FCC