FCC Establishes Space Bureau

Federal agency has more than 60,000 backlogged satellite applications.

To help administer a booming space business industry, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has opened a new space office that will manage more than 60,000 applications for new satellites and services.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced in November that the FCC would split its International Bureau into two new offices, a Space Bureau and an Office of International Affairs.  Julie Kearney, previously FCC special counsel for space law and policy, will head the new space organization.  The FCC unanimously approved the proposal in January.

“We see the opportunity to improve the economy and enrich our lives.”  Rosenworcel said at a Washington press conference launching the Space Bureau.  “The space section has been on a monumental run.  We have applications for more than 60,000 new satellites before this agency.”

Xona smallsat in LEO (Image: Xona).

At the top of its priorities is how to manage the tremendous backlog of satellite applications.  While many are for communications networks, the sector is seeing a boom in low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, which many industry experts say will be the next augmentation for GNSS.

In one example, the U.S. Space Force is planning to procure 72 satellites for a LEO orbit military constellation that will have a navigation payload. The Space Development Agency, in a draft solicitation, seeks input by March 1 on its Draft Tranche 2 Transport Layer – Beta Program.

The increased integration between terrestrial networks and those in space is also an area of concern for the agency.


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