back to article Want to put a satellite into orbit for US comms? Whoa, says Uncle Sam: Where's your space crash risk assessment?

Satellite communications companies beaming signals to and from America will need to convince the nation's comms watchdog that any new sats put into orbit won't collide with others and spam space with debris. On Thursday, the FCC announced new rules that tackle the growing threat of orbital debris polluting space around Earth …

  1. SJA

    LEO isn't so much a problem

    To my understanding, LEOs aren't much of a problem as non-functional satellites will come down to earth within a short period of time and vaporize themselves in the atmosphere. The higher up the satellites are, the longer it takes until earth's gravity puts them in again.

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: LEO isn't so much a problem

      A short period being weeks, months or years depending on the orbit.

      In the meantime, everything else has to expend fuel trying to keep out of the way, reducing their lifetime too.

    2. TomJo

      Re: LEO isn't so much a problem

      As far as I understand, the problem is more that the fragments can damage the working objects. For example, debris crashes into the ISS or other operating satellites.

      This is a good initiative. But you will also need to deal with what is already there. Scientists estimate that there are more than 50,000 pieces of various space debris in orbit. And some of these fragments are over 2 tons.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The big question is, of course: what's in it for Pai? In whose vested interest is he working?

    1. Chris G

      The big question

      Exactly my thinking.

      Who could possibly lobby Mr Pai to elevate satellite safety rules because they already have them and would like to make it harder for a newcomer to get a foit in the door ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Betcha the same people are getting bailout money

        I betcha the same people doing the lobbying to get these new 'safety' rule changes are also getting some bailout money.

        I'm also waiting for the inevitable case where they bailout health insurers.

        It's not what right or wrong, or even what the law says, it's what's the quid pro quo is worth.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: The big question

        I'm sure all the big aerospace manufacturers (Boeing/Lockheed/Northrup etc.) have various expensive projects to deal with debris, which they'd love to get funded. Ideally on a Cost Plus basis.

        This is just a guess, but on one hand you have an industry that likes bribes totally legitimate lobbying, and on the other, an FCC chairman who used to be a lobbyist and by all accounts is still very friendly with the people he used to work for.

        Seems like a match made in, if not heaven, at least somewhere sunny like the Camen islands, (or Belize, or Andorra, or Panama etc. etc.)

    2. Blofeld's Cat

      Pai in the sky ...

      No, no. This is simply a safety issue and complete unrelated to anyone trying to establish an alternative wireless broadband network.

      The timing of these new rules is also entirely coincidental.

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Commentards are right onto this one.

    Just about everything I thought, while reading this has already been said - well done people.

    I just hope Satan is preparing a very special place for Pai

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: Commentards are right onto this one.

      He'll never get there. Pai is a number without end, after all.

  4. nematoad
    Thumb Down

    I believe you.

    " that we could seek additional comment on them."

    And then ignore them just as they did with the shady "consultation" on the repeal of net neutrality.

    It's just business as usual with this FCC.

  5. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Oh no


    PS: Also on Thursday, the FCC announced it had opened up more than 1,200MHz of bandwidth in the 6GHz band for unlicensed Wi-Fi use, ideal for next-gen Wi-Fi 6E devices.

    For gods sake dont tell the 5G conspiracy loons this or they'll all be smashing our doors down so they can torch our routers.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh no

      Wouldn't that be the 6G conspiracy?

  6. Grinning Bandicoot

    Parkinson strikes again

    Going a far bit out if charter which makes for a quick court case or How I Learned to Posture Knowing It for What It Was. Some one is looking to the future - theirs!

  7. RLWatkins

    Where was that "crash risk assessment"...

    ... when Star Link and its (now defunct) competitors started launching what will eventually be hundreds of satellites?

    And what made the US FCC competent to manage policy regarding space debris? (Or at the moment, to manage any damn' thing at all?)

    And did anyone bother asking any of the other dozen or so countries which also have equipment in orbit?

    And... is Hell full and the dead are walking the Earth? Seems like it.

    1. TomJo

      Re: Where was that "crash risk assessment"...

      The main thing is that a start has been made. Plus, there are enough startups that are actively working on space debris removal tools. Various lasers, space tugs, space debris catchers, etc.

      There are so many launches now that soon all these devices will be used for their intended purpose.

  8. hoola Silver badge


    Just look at the way the parent organisations putting up cube sats and these constellations work.

    Everything is on lowest possible cost and when things go wrong, they just say "sorry, it won't happen again". They will only start to take notice if debris from their or another similar outfit impact them directly. The trouble is that by the time we have reached that point it will be too late.

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