Friday, October 14, 2022

FCC: Unused Satellites Must be Deorbited Within 5 Years

The FCC has adopted a new rule requiring owners of out-of-service satellites to remove them from orbit within five years, a significant acceleration from the previous rule which provided a 25-year deorbiting window. 

According to the AMSAT News Service, the goal is to reduce the risk of collisions in the ever-more crowded low-earth orbits inhabited by many communication satellites. The reduction in time was recommended by NASA, which is concerned about the growing amount of space junk in Earth orbit. 

According to ANS, it’s estimated that there are already some 100 million pieces of space junk in orbit, much of it too small to track but not too small to cause significant damage in a collision. The ANS report did not indicate what impact the new rule may have on amateur satellites, some of which have spontaneously reactivated themselves after many years of theoretically being “out of service.”