Access Alert | Federal Communications Commission Votes to Establish a Space Bureau and Office of International Affairs

Access Alert | Federal Communications Commission Votes to Establish a Space Bureau and Office of International Affairs

On 4 January, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to adopt Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s initiative to create a new Space Bureau to address the rapid growth of the satellite industry. The creation of the new bureau is part of the FCC’s broader Space Innovation agenda, which was outlined by Chairwoman Rosenworcel in November 2022. Space policy at the FCC is currently overseen by the agency’s International Bureau, which would in turn be reorganised as the Office of International Affairs pending the plan’s final approval. Having adopted the new initiative, the FCC will now have to seek approval from Congress and other bodies before finalising the new Space Bureau’s establishment.

This move by the FCC has been spurred in large part by the agency’s need to keep up with the growing number of applications for new satellites on top of an eight-fold increase in applications for satellite service gateways, earth stations, lunar landers, space tugs, and space antenna farms. The creation of a dedicated Space Bureau would, in part, focus that body’s attention more precisely on matching the rise in applications.

More broadly, the FCC’s initiative also reflects the increased interest of the US government to address the recent growth of the commercial space sector. To meet the rise in commercial space activity, government bodies have been diversifying and delineating their roles and responsibilities in space. In October 2022, for example, the Department of Defense announced plans to transfer space object tracking responsibilities to the Department of Commerce. While the FCC maintains that its proposed restructuring would not expand its mandate to additional areas of space policy, the creation of a new Space Bureau is nonetheless a reflection of that trend.

Access Partnership works closely with members of the space and satellite industry and provides key analyses on how emerging policies affect their business. For more information on US space policy, please contact Jacob Hafey at [email protected] or Leslie Martinkovics at [email protected].

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