The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today voted to initiate what it calls a “Notice of Inquiry” to begin a policy review aimed at expanding its involvement and regulation of “space missions like satellite refueling, inspecting and repairing in-orbit spacecraft, capturing and removing debris, and transforming materials through manufacturing while in space.”
From the Federal Communications Commission’s press release [pdf]:
Today’s action continues this modernization effort as in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing capabilities – or “ISAM” – has the potential to build entire industries, create new jobs, mitigate climate change, and advance America’s economic, scientific, technological, and national security interests. ISAM missions take place on-orbit, in transit, or on the surface of space bodies. The FCC’s effort to open up this conversation dovetails with the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s recent release of a ISAM National Strategy.
This policy review is part of the FCC’s broad effort to update its rules for the new space age. For example, the FCC is taking significant steps to update its satellite rules. The FCC also adopted new rules to lay the groundwork for giving satellite launch companies ready access to spectrum for transmissions from space launch vehicles during pre-launch testing and space launch operations.
ISAM (In-space Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing) refers to the final policy statement [pdf] of a working group in the National Science & Technology Council, created as part of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Biden administration. That policy statement outlined six strategies that the federal government needs to focus on to encourage American success in space. From its conclusion:
The six national strategic goals outlined in this strategy:
- the advancement of R&D capabilities
- prioritizing scalable infrastructure
- accelerating commercial innovation
- promoting international cooperation and collaboration
- fostering environmental sustainability
- and inspiring the future space workforce
[These] will produce greater space capabilities through appropriate policies, procedures, and operational infrastructure. ISAM capabilities can create the foundation for sustainable operations and serve as a strategic enabler to spur U.S. scientific and technological innovation, ensure the freedom to operate, and preserve the use of space for future generations.
Note how none of these goals has anything to do with the electromagnetic spectrum, the regulation of which is the sole and only real responsibility of the Federal Communications Commission.
Yet, the Federal Communications Commission now seems to think it has a place on the table in regulating future manufacturing in space, satellite refueling, satellite repair, and the removal of space junk. How the hell did assigning and licensing frequency spectrum for communications suddenly morph into the right to regulate almost all aspects of business in space?
What we are seeing here is called “mission creep.” The Federal Communications Commission is doing what all bureaucracies in the federal government have been doing for decades, expanding its power and its scope of control. It is trying to set precedents whereby American citizens accept its right to tell them what to do, when to do, how to do it, and not to do it, if these control freaks in Washington decide it shouldn’t be done.
If voters do not begin electing politicians willing to stand up to this bureaucracy and fire it wholesale, we will lose this country very soon — if we haven’t lost it already.
We need a complete house-cleaning. The broom must sweep everything clean, including the wholesale and quite merciless firing of tens of thousands of DC bureaucrats. They need to find real work, instead of squelching the real work of others.
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