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Communications Space Science

FCC Guidance On Radio For Commercial Space Operations Falls Short 48

RocketAcademy writes "The Federal Communications Commission has issued a Public Notice to help commercial space companies obtain use of communications frequencies for launch, operations, and reentry. Commercial space companies can obtain the use of government frequencies on a temporary, non-interference basis through the FCC's Experimental Authorization process. Experimental Authorizations are valid for a six-month period from the date of grant and are renewable, but applicants must obtain a new authorization for each launch and must apply 90 days in advance. Unfortunately, this requirement does not meet the needs of suborbital launch providers who expect to fly several times per day and schedule launches as needed, on very short notice."
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FCC Guidance On Radio For Commercial Space Operations Falls Short

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  • I would generally agree with your assessment, other than the fact that there are many commercial operators planning on getting into the game real soon with much more frequent flights than has been the case in the past. By far and away most of those flights are going to be sub-orbital (typically only going to 100 km in altitude) and the bulk of these flights will even be working with air traffic in some fashion or another.

    Orbital spacecraft are going to be a much tougher problem, particularly for things like nanosatellites. They will be using that spectrum for prolonged periods of time (years at a time or longer), and if there are crews in spacecraft like a Bigelow module or some other "orbital hotel", they may even need a global "clear channel" of some sort.

    Allowing everybody to have the luxury of a global clear channel communications link like the Apollo astronauts enjoyed in the 1960's isn't going to be possible if large numbers of people start using space and seek their own "private communications channel". It will be interesting to see how this will all work out, and I don't think there is a single realistic solution to this mess but rather a whole bunch of compromises and even rethinking how communications between ground stations and spacecraft will take place in the coming decades.

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