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FCC decides to expand its power in space

FCC: Now in charge of everything in space

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?

The government has to be swept clean, completely

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.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Tom Billings

    This is not Mission Creep.

    This is Mission Leap!

    While growth of the numbers of clerks to be supervised is always a priority in the civil service (it determines your own salary) adding entirely new economic sectors indicates that people at FCC want what Office of Space Commerce was denied for 2 years running. That is, the budget and leverage to affect those things in Space that will affect the spaceflight economy as much or more than communications. They know a political weakling, still getting their feet under them, like OSC, will still have few enough political patrons they might get away with this.

    So, why not try? How many friends in the Alabama delegation does FCC have? I dunno. I do know they will be frantic to put the reusable genie back into the regulatory bottle. If Florida’s delegation no longer cooperates this *may* be a final effort for them, or it might be the beginning of a whole new Beltway push to weave a regulatory web that holds private activity under political control in Space.

  • Max

    A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
    A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
    Oppressive, dictatorial control.

    If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck…

    Patterned after interstate commerce, who eventually controlled “all trade” from the constitutional suggestion that the states have an agreement that is satisfactory to all…

    Communications between earth and space is as necessary as gasoline to a car. Without it, your functionality is very limited. Perhaps this is the chokepoint for which they believe they can expand their power or cut you off from the very thing that allows you to be useful. A power grab like no other.
    Who does the The FCC work for? The people?
    If you ask the people at AT&T, Netflix, Disney, dish TV, star link, and all the others who have bought large band widths will tell you otherwise.
    Those who wish to control Space need a government fulcrum to apply their lever of Force to make it seem legitimate for the new public private partnership.

    Perhaps this is why George Soros is buying up as many radio stations as he can…. Own the frequencies so that everyone must bow and pay the price he has set.

  • George C

    The FCC should regulate only the communications signals. On Earth it is local zoning authority that regulates the construction of buildings on which an antenna is placed. In the air and in space that should be the FAA.

  • wayne

    The appropriate clip from
    Starship Troopers (1997)

  • Col Beausabre

    ” 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.” That’s because the people who join regulatory agencies go there because they want to regulate. They want control – for the sake of control. Oh, they dress it up as we, of superior intellect, education and morals, must out of our sheer nobility, protect the benighted common herd aka “the deplorables” from the consequences of their own base instincts.

  • LTC Ted

    Letssee.. Cthulu or the Federal nomenklatura octopus… Oh hear me, great Old One…

  • Bob Wilson

    With the West Virginia versus EPA case, the Supreme Court has provided a way to put an end to this bureaucratic power grab. The question is how much damage the FCC will do before the court end it.

  • Gary H

    In general, the administration and states like California are ignoring federal Supreme Court rulings. In fact, regarding 2A issues, they are doubling down. They intend to swamp the court system as a means to nullify rulings that reduce their autocratic power.

  • James Street

    I hope this doesn’t happen to SpaceX:

    The U.S. made a breakthrough battery discovery — then gave the technology to China
    “The Chinese company didn’t steal this technology. It was given to them — by the U.S. Department of Energy. First in 2017, as part of a sublicense, and later, in 2021, as part of a license transfer. An investigation by NPR and the Northwest News Network found the federal agency allowed the technology and jobs to move overseas, violating its own licensing rules while failing to intervene on behalf of U.S. workers in multiple instances.”

  • Frank Solomon

    Assuming House majorities change next year, a creative House Ways & Means Committee alone can zero out the funding that pays for this FCC “decision”, and the

    National Science & Technology Council
    Office of Science and Technology Policy

    bureaucracies that support / sustain it.

    The House has exclusive appropriation power / power of the purse. A president can’t spend money the House does not appropriate. Theoretically . .

  • Edward

    This reminds me of that time that NOAA tried to regulate photography from space — all because one company didn’t look “serious” in space. SpaceX stopped its live pictures from its upper stage, because NOAA claimed sole authority to regulate photography of the Earth from space. If we give them an inch, they will take the Earth. What a load of tyrants we have allowed to breed in our government.

    It is kind of like rats invading a ship and eating all the stores — the rest of us will starve to death before we reach our destination. In essence, we have let the rats take over the ship, or we have let the inmates run the asylum. To paraphrase theWoody Guthrie song:

    ♪ This land was your land
    ♪ This land was my land

    ♪ This land was grabbed by bureaucracy ♪

    Welcome to Obama’s fundamentally transformed Amerika, land of the formerly free.

  • GaryMike

    The Federal Government operates within Federal borders.

    Federal borders don’t extend into the solar system.

    They don’t want any of us to actually be free of them.

    Venting atmosphere is way more easy than firing them.

  • Jeff Wright

    To James…good hearted Elon also gave away patents for the good of the planet. With electric cars more common…I bet he wishes he hadn’t.

    I think Elon does not die on Mars, but on a Tesla factory floor…a coronary most likely—from some outrage or other.

  • Cotour

    Its all related:


    What does parts per million (ppm), Climate Change, and the Democrat party have in common?

    There are currently 400 parts per million of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere. What does that mean? I really never stopped to work it out. How many ppm are there in 1%? There are 10,000 parts per million in 1%. So that means that there are 0.04% or 4 / 100ths of one percent CO2 in earth’s atmosphere. Less than miniscule if you ask me.

    ppm to percent (%) conversion calculator | number conversion (

    “Climate Change” worshipers (“Climate Change” is now a virtue signaling religion of sorts) site the amount of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere as being the prime driver of our apparent coming human extinction through CO2 concentrations in earth’s atmosphere. And they site planets like Venus as being our fate if we do not get control over our CO2 output. A little dramatic and over the top maybe?

    What is the ppm CO2 concentration on Venus? 30,000 ppm or 96.4 percent. Now apply brain, does that really correlate with what drives the earth’s climate and temperature to you? Do you think that might be an unreasonable political fear tactic? (Clean up pollution and improve our energy production technology, 100%. And we are well on the way to doing just that, but the numbers are the numbers. And they do not add up IMO.)

    Now what does this have to do with the Democrat party?

    Charles Schumer (D) makes a conference call to Joe Manchin (D) and Christin Sinema (D):

    Good morning, Joe, Christin, I need to go over a few things with you as this critical vote for the “Inflation Recovery Act” approaches so you both can get your heads on straight.

    If either of you choose to not vote with the party, you will single handedly be responsible for the destruction of our party now and into the future. We desperately need this excessive government spending in order to remain relevant in politics because with the coming massive red tidal wave that will for certain be visited upon us this midterm election. We are currently unable to at this time reliably control the results of our election system and so we must have this bill passed.

    Without it we are done! If the culture of dependency is not funded over the next 10 years, the people, NGO’s, corporations, the UN etc. will look elsewhere for their leadership, and they may become too independent and self-sufficient to be recaptured. If our party survives that long that is.

    If you continue to adhere to rational economic thinking on this subject and continue to hamper our spending and progressive climate change agenda by withholding your vote, you will destroy our efforts to kill Capitalism and get this country under proper reliably exclusive Democrat control and in compliance with our progressive Globalist agenda. We are sooo close. Are both of you reading me?

    Why all of a sudden are both Manchin and Sinema unable to rationally think but before they were able to? Fear for their future and their safety IMO.

    Now you know what Parst Per Million, Climate Change and the Democrat Party have in common.

  • Cotour

    And thinking for a second about the CO2 ppm effects on the earth’s climate and or temperature there would be a simple experiment to be executed that would prove or disprove the temperature contention.

    Build several exactly the same enclosures next to each other, seal them and precisely control the amount of CO2 within them and monitor their temperatures. From .04ppm and several other concentrations up to 30,000 ppm, see what happens. Where is the actual tipping point where CO2 drives temperature?

    Has this simple experiment ever been attempted? Too simple? Too definitive? The earth’s atmosphere is too dynamic, and the results would not be relevant?

    0.04 ppm CO2 on earth, average temperature 57′ F, 30,000 ppm CO2 on Venus average temperature 864′ F.

    Is Temperature / Climate a result of CO2 ppm? Is it a driving cause? Or an effect? I tend to see it as an effect and not a driver.

    CO2 at some critical point of concentration may in fact become a driver of out-of-control temperature, and .04 ppm IMO is not anywhere near that point. Clean up pollution, particulate in the air and improve our energy production technology and techniques 100%, but this after drilling down on it does not makes sense to me.

    Prove me wrong.

  • John hare

    Venus co2 is 964,000 parts per million.

  • Robert Z,

    I read the FCC press release and glanced through the ISAM National Strategy. One could read into it what you have. But, one could also read the press release as the FCC wanting to coordinate their regulatory regime with the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s ISAM National Strategy. In the 3rd paragraph, the release speaks to spectrum usage. The 4th paragraph furthers this, but I was taken aback by the FCC even currently having anything to do with orbital debris. So you may have a bit more information on the FCC attempts at mission creep than is presented here. The FCC does hold control of frequencies used by civilian U.S. space activities from launch and beyond. There are other organizations that coordinate internationally. What the future will hold as private companies go interplanetary is not fully thought out because for so long this was thought to be only the arena of government space flight.

  • BillB: Several decades ago I would have never assumed this action was a big grab for power, and would have assumed, as you do, that it was merely the FCC ‘s effort to coordinate.

    The endless abuse of power coming from the federal bureaucracy that is now routine changes my assumptions. This is “the bit more information” that I apply to this story.

    Thus, to think this action is innocent today is to be naive.

  • Cotour


    I believe you are correct.

    96.4% X’s 10,000 (10,000 parts per million in one percent) = 964,000 ppm CO2 on Venus, even more ridiculous.

    This is the man that IMO with possibly the best of intentions set this entire “Climate Change” controversy off based on massaged and possibly deceptive interpretation of data, Carl Sagan.

    And through that misinterpretation has been fashioned into a very virtuous political weapon by Globalist political interests. Now it is a religion. The comparison between Venus and the Earths atmospheres are inappropriate at best. IMO.

  • Cotour

    The there is this:

    From; CO2 Science:

    “To provide a numerical illustration of this phenomenon, consider the planet Venus, which has a massive 93-bar atmosphere that is about 96% CO2. Relative to Earth, we could say that its atmospheric CO2 concentration is 0.96 x 93 bar x 1,0000,000 ppm CO2 per bar = 89,300,000 ppm CO2. This amount of CO2 produces a greenhouse warming on Venus of approximately 500C. Hence, the mean global warming produced by a 300 ppm increment of CO2 over this vast concentration range (0 to 89,300,000 ppm) is (500C / 89,300,000 ppm CO2) x 300 ppm CO2 = 0.0017C.”

    Lots of numbers flying around surrounding this subject. The takeaway for me? This subject is used primarily as a tool of fear and political control rather than a true scientific rational for destroying our system and way of life because we are doomed if we do not.

  • John

    Sooner or later, the easy way or the hard way; the people are going to have to expand their power – back to where it was.

  • Kelly_3406

    On the basis of the SCOTUS decision in West Virginia vs EPA, it would seem likely that SpaceX could win a lawsuit against the FCC on the grounds that the authority to regulate space commerce has not been legislatively approved by Congress.

  • Cotour

    This is in fact what its all about:

    The Democrats are going to save the planet.

    They will tend to get everyone killed or have them equally impoverished, but the Democrats are going to save the planet.

    Stupis X’s Stupid = Really Stupid.

  • Jeff Wright

    All I want the FCC to do is protect HAM and CB bands.

  • Andi

    Yes, I miss the Friendly Candy Company of old…

  • Luke

    At issue, is that we’ve been electing representatives to rein this in for a long, long time.
    The good ones are frozen out of decision making, and leave (mostly voluntarily) after a term or two.
    The bad ones become corrupt (often on Day One), and stay forever, propped up by all the money, power, and dirty tricks that the political establishment can provide.

    I’m afraid we’re looking at a Gordian knot.

  • GWB

    a working group in the National Science & Technology Council, created as part of the Office
    Why does that almost immediately bring to mind this quote?
    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

  • GWB

    now seems to think it has a place on the table
    Heh. “A place at the table” is the normal expression for inclusion.
    A place at the table is what Grandma has at Thanksgiving.
    A place on the table is what the turkey has at Thanksgiving. :)

  • Cotour

    Related, its all realted:

    A friend sent this to me this morning:

    You do not have to love the egomaniacal surgeon who specializes in your life saving surgery.

    Most people want to be in love with their surgeon or at least like them.

    This is quadrupled as it pertains to women and their “Surgeon”.

    And that is just the emotional nature of the human being.

    I will take Trump or a very close facsimile.

  • Greg The Class Traitor

    Bob Wilson is correct.

    The FCC needs to be sued, under EPA vs WVa, and the court needs to instruct them that they can not do ANYTHING on that until they get explicit Congressional authorization.

    This is a slam dunk at any decent Federal District Court. So someone affected needs to be getting the lawsuit going, now

  • schwit

    I have to wonder if the goal here is to be a thorn in the side of SpaceX/Musk

  • GaryMike

    Where’s funding for Gen4/5 nuclear in the legislation?

    They’re not climate serious, are they?

    It’s not about protecting us.

  • Cotour


    Aware of this?

    “Chinese news reports say the country is about to bring online one of the largest battery farms the world has ever seen. The reports say the entire farm is made up of vanadium redox flow batteries.”

  • wayne

    my only question– can we get all that vanadium to fuse, if we ignite it with a hydrogen weapon?

  • Cotour

    + 6 PSI ?

    That would require a response, Wayne. Now why would the CCP want to damage their customer base and their growing property holdings?

  • Cotour


    What is the agenda America? “Fundamentally transform America”.

    1. Flooded the southern border with millions of illegals / newly minted Democrat voters. Done.
    2. Deliver Afghanistan to the Taliban, give the CCP a military airport and created a worldwide weapons supply chain. Done.
    3. Use the government, FBI, DOJ and other agencies as political weapons. Done and ongoing.
    4. Destroy the fossil fuel industry to install all-electric transportation in the name of reducing CO2 emissions. Done.
    5. Food supply systems are being manipulated and stressed. Done
    6. Cause inflation, a baby food crisis, sky high gas prices. Done, everyone’s controlled.
    7. Fulfill the Globalist agenda of total control and compliance through “Climate Change”. Ongoing.
    8. Deliver Ukraine to the Russians. Ongoing.
    9. Deliver Taiwan to China. Ongoing.
    10. Control the national election system. Ongoing.


    We are not in Kansas anymore Dorothy.

    By any means necessary means by any means necessary, up to and including murder.

    They always tell you who they fear the most and why do they fear him the most? Because he nor do you support any of the Leftist radical Globalist agendas and offences to the Constitution. All un and anti American activities.

    You are a Democrat? This is your new world, congratulations.

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