The battle over 5G wireless frequency allocation is heating up.
On one side, there’s NASA, the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who say that spectrum in the 24GHz band the government recently auctioned off to private companies will likely result in cell signals that would interfere with accurate weather forecasting.
On the other side is Federal Communications Commission and its chairman, Ajit Pai, who ignored requests to delay the auction while more studies were done. Pai recently toldthe Senate Science Committee to ignore what he called faulty data presented by NASA and NOAA at the 11th hour.
WASHINGTON (Commerce Department PR) — Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross sent a report to President Donald J. Trump detailing thirteen recommendations that will improve the global competitiveness of the American space sector through updated domestic and international spectrum policies.
This report was developed collaboratively with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Space Council, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, as well as other Federal entities, to create a set of proposals the Federal Government as a whole can adopt to fuel the growth of the U.S. space commerce economy.
SpaceNewsreports that NASA and the Commerce Department are battling the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the commission’s plan to auction radio frequency spectrum for 5G service.
The battle has apparently taken the form of an exchange of tersely written letters.
In a March 8 letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, [FCC Chairman Ajit] Pai emphasized the Trump Administration’s commitment to rolling out 5G as soon as possible and freeing up spectrum for it.
The FCC is preparing to auction 2,909 licenses in the 24.25 to 25.25 bands of the electromagnetic spectrum on March 14. At the same time, the FCC is preparing the U.S. government’s proposal for the 2019 World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC) in Egypt starting in October. The U.S. plan for protecting passive microwave services from interference is far less stringent than plans published by other nations.
Ross and Bridenstine asked for further discussion of the U.S. position.
“The current FCC proposal would have a significant negative impact on the transmission of critical Earth science data – an American taxpayer investment spanning decades and billions of dollars,” they wrote in a Feb. 28 letter to Pai. “As the U.S. government continues to investigate additional spectrum for future commercial broadband use, it is essential that protections are established for the critical operations of NASA, the Department of Commerce and our international partners in the 23.6 to 24 GHz spectrum band.”
Pai wrote back on March 8 rejecting the idea of putting the auction on hold and attending an inter-agency meeting scheduled for today.
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology America in Space: Future Visions, Current Issues
Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 – 10:00 am EST Location: 2318 Rayburn House Office Building
Dr. Ellen Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Former NASA Chief Scientist
Dr. Peggy A. Whitson, Technical Consultant and Former Astronaut
Mr. Frank A. Rose, Senior Fellow, Security and Strategy, The Brookings Institution, Former Assistant Secretary of State
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation The New Space Race: Ensuring U.S. Global Leadership on the Final Frontier
Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 – 10:00 am EST Location: G50 Dirksen Senate Office Building
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled, “The New Space Race: Ensuring U.S. Global Leadership on the Final Frontier,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. The hearing will discuss the U.S. government’s strategy for maintaining leadership in space, ensuring space industry competitiveness, and addressing challenges to spacefaring preeminence.
The Honorable Jim Bridenstine, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Mr. Kevin O’Connell, Director, Office of Space Commerce, Department of Commerce
Last week, we took a look at the significant increase in NASA’s budget for FY 2019. In this story, we will examine the budget increases for the Commerce Department — which manages the nation’s weather satellites — and the Department of Transportation, which oversees commercial launches. We will also take a look how the White House’s National Space Council fared.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
NOAA’s satellite programs received $1,45 billion, which is an increase of $55 million over FY 2018. The bulk of the funding is designated for the GOES-R, Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and Polar Follow-on (PFO) programs. The amounts include:
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that it will cost $127 million over five years to implement a House bill that gives the Department of Commerce authority to provide civilian space situational awareness and traffic management.
Of that amount, the Department of Commerce would spend $118 million for fiscal years 2019-23.
“The bill would authorize the appropriation of $20 million annually to implement the civil space situational awareness program, and an additional $5 million annually to develop and implement the pilot program,” the CBO report stated.
NASA would spend an additional $9 million over this period to establish and operate a research center focused on space situational awareness and traffic management.
Some of the costs of the program would be offset by fees.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif., July 25, 2018 (Aerospace Corporation PR) – The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy (CSPS) released a new issue brief today that analyzes the U.S. administration’s plans to significantly enlarge the space portfolio of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC).
The plan calls for DOC to expand its range of responsibilities beyond regulatory reform to encompass space traffic management and to promote the nation’s commercial space sector.
Video Caption: Introduction by Hudson President and CEO Kenneth R. Weinstein followed by a Keynote address by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX).
Maintaining U.S. leadership in the face of global competition warrants a reevaluation of the U.S. political and legal landscape governing space. On July 24, Hudson Institute was joined by the Secretary Wilbur Ross and House Science, Space, & Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith to discuss the Department of Commerce’s evolving role in the space sector.
The web of national, regional and international institutions—organized to guide and serve an industry undergoing dramatic transformation—needs to be updated. Rising to meet this challenge, Congress and the Executive Branch have been working together to reshape the legal environment for the commercial use of outer space. Keynote addresses by Secretary Ross and Congressman Smith will be followed by a panel with senior government officials responsible for executing the reform agenda laid out by the Trump Administration.
WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Chairman Lamar Smith of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee gave remarks today at the Hudson Institute’s discussion of the New Era in Space. Smith’s remarks touched on the growing private sector presence in space and how the government can effectively collaborate with industry while spurring investment and innovation.
Additionally, Smith explained how two Committee bills, H.R. 5346, the Commercial Space Support Vehicle Act, and H.R. 6226, the American Space SAFE Management Act, are designed to enable the Department of Commerce to be responsible for carrying out the supervision of space activities. “The Commerce Department is best equipped to help entrepreneurs and innovators build companies and succeed in business,” Smith said.
The full text of the remarks, as prepared for delivery, is below:
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today approved H.R.6226, the American Space Situational Awareness and Facilitation of Entity Management Act (American Space SAFE Management Act), introduced by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). This bill will establish the Department of Commerce as the civilian agency to provide civil space situational awareness and traffic coordination.
Chairman Smith: “This bill is an important step to secure the United States as the leader in space traffic management and improves the safety of all space operations. The number of commercial satellites in space are predicted to grow from 1,300 active satellites today to more than 10,000 in the next few years. Now is the time to solidify the role of the Department of Commerce in the development of space traffic standards and guidelines. The creation of an open basic data system that combines information from American commercial and government actors, as well as international entities, will provide for the overall safe operation and management of space. This bill also better enables the Department of Defense to focus its resources on national security.”
The House Science Committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would transfer responsibility for space traffic management and situational awareness from the Defense Department to the Commerce Department over the objections of Democrats who said the measure rubber stamped a half-baked Trump Administration plan.
“This bill is an important step to secure the United States as the leader in space traffic management and improves the safety of all space operations,” Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said in a statement. “The number of commercial satellites in space are predicted to grow from 1,300 active satellites today to more than 10,000 in the next few years. Now is the time to solidify the role of the Department of Commerce in the development of space traffic standards and guidelines.”
The American Space Situational Awareness and Framework for Entity Management Act (American Space SAFE Management Act) is in line with Space Policy Directive 3, which President Donald Trump signed earlier this month. The program’s main goal is to prevent satellites from colliding with orbital debris and each other.
WASHINGTON, DC (Commerce Department PR) — Today, U.S Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross praised President Donald J. Trump’s signing of Space Policy Directive 3 (SPD-3), America’s first National Space Traffic Management Policy. The policy acknowledges the rapidly increasing volume and diversity of commercial space activity and announces that the Department of Commerce should be the new civil agency interface for space traffic management (STM) and space situational awareness (SSA).
“I commend President Trump and the National Space Council for reaching yet another important milestone as we work to ensure U.S. commercial leadership in space,” said Secretary Ross. “I look forward to working closely with DoD and other departments and agencies as we meet the challenge of increased commercial and civil space traffic.”
WASHINGTON (Commerce Department PR) — Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross praised President Trump’s signing of Space Policy Directive – 2 (SPD-2), which directs the Department of Commerce and other agencies to implement reforms of the U.S. commercial space regulatory framework that will unshackle private space industry. The President’s approval brings into force several recommendations made by the National Space Council in February that will ensure America remains the flag of choice for space commerce.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, and the National Space Council is making great strides toward ensuring that the U.S. is the leader in space for generations to come,” said Secretary Ross. “I commend Vice President Pence and the rest of the Council for their hard work.”
Space Policy Directive-2, Streamlining Regulations on Commercial Use of Space
MEMORANDUM FOR THE VICE PRESIDENT THE SECRETARY OF STATE THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION THE SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY THE SECRETARY OF LABOR THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR HOMELAND SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
SUBJECT: Streamlining Regulations on Commercial Use of Space
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the executive branch to be prudent and responsible when spending taxpayer funds, and to recognize how government actions, including Federal regulations, affect private resources. It is therefore important that regulations adopted and enforced by the executive branch promote economic growth; minimize uncertainty for taxpayers, investors, and private industry; protect national security, public-safety, and foreign policy interests; and encourage American leadership in space commerce.
The House passed a measure on Tuesday designed to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for commercial space companies.
The American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017 invests oversight authority in the Department of Commerce’s Office of Space Commerce.
A key element of the bill is the reform and simplification of the regulatory process that covers remote sensing. The measure requires the office to approve or reject an application for a space object to launch.
“The bill establishes a favorable legal and policy environment for free enterprise with maximum certainty and minimum burden for stakeholders,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who introduced the legislation and chairs the House Science Committee. “With this innovative legislation, we position the American space industry as a leader.
“New space operators would now be incentivized to set up shop on American ground and allow the United States to maintain and adhere to our international obligations as well as improving our national security,” Smith added. “This enterprising bill provides an efficient, transparent, and streamlined structure for authorizing and supervising future space activities to create the path for future exploration of the final frontier.”
The bill creates a Private Space Activity Advisory Committee to analyze the effectiveness of the the office’s operations, identify problems, and provide recommendations to the Commerce Department and Congress on policies and practices.
Space companies and industry groups praised the act in a press release issued on Tuesday.
“The member companies and institutions of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation are in strong agreement with all of the goals and most of the key elements of your legislation: significant reform of the Commerce Department’s obsolete, burdensome, and dysfunctional regime for licensing commercial remote sensing satellites is especially welcome,” said federation president Eric Stallmer.