FCC Opens Proceeding on Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing in Space

Proceeding on Innovation and Transformation in the Space Economy

WASHINGTON (FCC PR) — In an effort to promote United States leadership in the emerging space economy, the Federal Communications Commission today voted to open a proceeding on the economic potential and policy questions related to servicing, assembly, and manufacturing taking place beyond the earth’s atmosphere. This Notice of Inquiry will examine the opportunities and challenges of space missions like satellite refueling, inspecting and repairing in-orbit spacecraft, capturing and removing debris, and transforming materials through manufacturing while in space.

Today’s action continues this modernization effort as in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing capabilities – or “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. ISAM missions take place on-orbit, in transit, or on the surface of space bodies. The FCC’s effort to open up this conversation dovetails with the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s recent release of a ISAM National Strategy.

This policy review is part of the FCC’s broad effort to update its rules for the new space age. For example, the FCC is taking significant steps to update its satellite rules. The FCC also adopted new rules to lay the groundwork for giving satellite launch companies ready access to spectrum for transmissions from space launch vehicles during pre-launch testing and space launch operations.

This Notice of Inquiry specifically seeks information on how the FCC might update, clarify, or modify its rules and licensing processes to responsibly facilitate progress and reduce barriers for ISAM missions. This proceeding will also review the spectrum needs of these missions, implications on the FCC’s orbital debris rules, and any unique regulatory issues presented by ISAM activities beyond Earth’s orbit.

Action by the Commission August 5, 2022 by Notice of Inquiry (FCC 22-66). Chairwoman [Jessica] Rosenworcel, Commissioners [Brendan] Carr, [Geoffrey] Starks, and [Nathan] Simington approving. Chairwoman Rosenworcel, Commissioners Starks and Simington issuing separate statements.