FCC adds Space Section to its Agency

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently enacted a Space Bureau to handle the growing satellite regulation issue. On April 11th it was announced that this Space section was to be led by Julie Kearney, a veteran of policy and law who was spent decades in private legal and telecommunications companies.

Kearney commented that one of her priorities is meeting demand of new regulations needed to keep pace with the high introduction of new satellites. Lately, due to increased demand for and the lowering of costs to build and to get to orbit, applications to the FCC have skyrocketed up to 60,000 requests for satellite approval.

This has been a major point of the FCC for sometime. In September of 2022, the FCC moved to shorten times of expired LEO satellites to be removed from orbit. There has been proposals in March for space to ground cellphone communications rules due to the increased usage of sat to cellphone usage in the commercial market and a proposal in April for revision of sharing of the wireless spectrum of satellites.

This Space Bureau was created in an attempt to make the FCC move flexible in its response to its increased workload. As such, the FCC International Bureau was split into two parts. The forth mentioned Space Bureau and the Office of International Affairs (OIA). Where the Space Bureau will work on the space sector, the OIA will handle international regulation more broadly.

In theory, this should allow the organization to react to issues faster and therefore allow for more robust security in the space sector. The space domain is ever evolving and in recent years the explosion of interest in LEO especially needed this change. The domain and the control this government entity contains is opaque though, as the proposal to lowering the time on-orbit after mission completion to 5 years from 25 years drew flak from House members of the House Science Committee.