In a separate Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in late April, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has updated it existing rules regarding orbital debris migration from non-government satellites.
According to the FCC, its current rules, which were originally implemented in 2001, no longer sufficiently account for the massive increase in orbital communications satellite traffic, as well as the exponential increase in the number of satellites being launched for short duration missions for academic or research purposes. At the same time, the FCC reports that the number of fragments generated by collisions, especially in some regions of low earth orbit (LEO) actually exceeds the number of objects removed from space as a result of natural atmospheric drag.
The FCC’s Report and Order provides a comprehensive update to the Commission’s existing rules in order to provide a clear regulatory framework for non-Federal communications satellite applicants, thereby helping to support the future, safe operation of orbital satellites and systems.
The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks public comment on a number of additional issues, including collision risk for multi-satellite systems, maneuverability requirements, and casualty risk, indemnification and performance bonds for successful spacecraft disposal.