Wednesday, November 11, 2020

ARRL Requests Accommodations for Amateur and University Satellites in Proposed Debris Mitigation Rules

The ARRL says certain provisions of proposed FCC rules to limit orbital debris from satellites would "seriously impair the ability of amateur and university experimenters to launch and operate satellites under U.S. auspices." According to the ARRL Letter, ARRL comments to the FCC on its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the debris mitigation proceeding focused on two specific areas, indemnification and maneuverability / propulsion. The League cited liability potential and high insurance costs to individual licensees as well as prohibitions on certain public universities from entering into indemnification arrangements. The League proposed exempting amateur and university satellites from indemnification requirements or, if it insisted on mandating it, to allow satellite owners as well as licensees to take responsibility.

On proposed propulsion rules – which would require satellites in low-earth orbit to be able to maneuver once in orbit – the ARRL proposed exempting small satellites that cannot accommodate propulsion systems or fuel in the limited space available. Overall, it said the FCC should not lump amateur and educational satellites in with large corporate satellite operators.