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FCC votes to improve manufacturing in space

The FCC could have just advanced the industrialization of space. Commissioners have voted and only an inquiry that may explore in-space servicing, assembly and manufacturing (ISAM). The move would both help officials understand the demands and risks of current in-space production technology while facilitating new projects. This may help companies build satellites and stations in orbit, for example, while finding new ways to cope with growing volumes of space debris.

The vote helps open a fresh “Space Innovation” docket at the FCC. In addition, it comes two days following the regulator updated its rules to generate more breathing room for satellite broadband frequencies. Expect somewhat more space-related developments in the years ahead, then.

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel saw the inquiry as vital. Existing rules were designed for “another era” where space programs were exclusively government-run, she said. The support ISAM will ideally help the FCC adjust to space tourism, huge private satellite constellations and a more substantial general shift toward commercial spaceflight.

There’s a lot of pressure to do something. Blue Origin, Axiom along with other companies are building commercial space stations, and also NASA is finding your way through a period when it could lease space aboard corporate facilities. In-orbit satellite repairs may also prove crucial in minimizing space junk from the wave of privately-operated satellites. As the FCC is just starting its efforts, the huge benefits might last for many years.

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