FCC to allocate spectrum for commercial launches

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering a long-awaited proposal in the next meeting so that a spectrum is set aside for commercial launches. Jessica Rosenworcel (Chairwoman of the FCC) mentions that the commission includes an agenda to propose a rule to grant secondary allocation of S-band spectrum which are reserves for government applications.

The band is between 2,200 and 2,290 megahertz which applies today for commercial launches. However, launch operators must apply for STA (special temporary authority) with FCC. The need for the application is in order to use that spectrum for each launch.

Comments from Jessica Rosenworcel in her statement include:

  • There is a surge in commercial launch activities in recent years.
  • Regulatory frameworks are outdated even after the revolutionary activities.
  • The U.S. leads the way in developing predictable and transparent rules to support the growing space industry.

Karina Drees, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) said, “CSF and its members have a long history of working on this issue and encouragement by the FCC’s announcement today. We look forward to continuing to work with the FCC to advance a prompt and appropriate solution.”

An association of five companies namely – Blue Origin, Relativity Space, Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX, and Virgin Orbit are in touch with FCC. The industry players contacted FCC with a set of consensus industry principles. In addition, a request for spectrum allocations for commercial launches by these players. The proposal has an emphasis to streamline coordination with other users. In addition, the focus is also to automate the “outdated manual process” to obtain STAs.

A letter written by Drees mentions that the current process does not have an adequate structure. A strong process is vital which are can support ongoing industry activities. The licensing poses a burden not only to the government but also to private players.

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