(by Michael Obregon, Colorado Law 2L)
The Technology Law and Policy Clinic at Colorado Law continued its work with Dr. Scott Palo and CU Engineering to influence national policy related to the regulation of small satellites by the Federal Communications Commission. The TLPC filed comments and reply comments on behalf of a coalition of researchers to argue for improvements to the FCC’s orbital debris rulemaking, which raises the possibility of legally and financially burdensome requirements on missions that could prevent academic researchers from participating in satellite-based research.
Student attorneys Caitlin League, Michael Obregon, and Brandon Ward, under the supervision of TLPC Director Blake E. Reid, argued against regulations mandating costly propulsion systems, indemnity requirements, and bond requirements. The comments emphasized the disproportionate impact additional regulations have on scientific research which harms not only the universities and students directly involved but the public good as well. The coalition additionally proposed that the FCC consider the public good when deciding how to allocate the increasingly finite resource of orbital space to applicants
The CU-led coalition included small satellite researchers at universities and non-profits across the United States, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Olin College, Air Force Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College, and numerous others. The coalition additionally proposed that the FCC consider the public good when deciding how to allocate the increasingly finite resource of orbital space to applicants. The comment record echoed many of the concerns shared by the coalition and many commenters recognized the importance of researchers’ ability to continue their work unencumbered by unnecessary regulations.
- The FCC’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be found here: Orbital Debris Mitigation Rules for the New Space Age FNPRM
- The CU-led comment can be found here: University and Small Satellite Researchers Comment on FNPRM