Advisory Committee Wants Changes In Proposed Regulations For Commercial Remote Sensing

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An industry group is about to recommend modifications for a proposal that revises remote sensing rules and regulations for commercial purposes, by arguing that the proposal is woefully deficient in keeping up with current industry needs and capabilities. Members of ACCRES discussed a notice for proposed rulemaking that was published on May 14 by the NOAA. This is the first massive change to commercial satellite system regulations since 2006.

New rules proposed intend to streamline the process of licensing such systems by NOAA. This is due to an increase in receipt of license requests.  ACCRES members stated that the current proposal will not create new problems for companies. Klinger, who is the ACCRES chair and VP at Raytheon stated that the draft was deficient in its current state. His committee went through an intense discussion over the rule. One proposal seeks to classify applicants as ‘high risk’ or ‘low risk’ with the former requiring more review. However, ACCRES stated that the rule would make it difficult for commercial systems to be defined as low risk and bring no change whatsoever. Every applicant would be branded ‘high risk’.

Brian Weeden of SWF stated that while he found permission for imaging non-Earth entities a step ahead, he was concerned about the restrictions in this draft. Limitations include limiting imaging to visible electromagnetic spectrum, 30-day prior approval of the government and the object’s owner for space objects. However, it would be difficult to do so in case of space debris, he stated. The time period could also prevent anomaly inspection.

Another meeting is scheduled on July 11 on the same topic. The public is free to extend comments until July 15.

Commerce Department and NOAA officials welcomed feedback. Secretary Ross reiterated his vision to retain American leadership in this industry and to turn around final rule after public comment window closes. Interagency discussions are required for the process to be successful. NOAA and Commerce Department should be prepared for discussion. Klinger stated that discussion would move on to national policy about remote sensing for commercial purposes. NSPD-27, which was updated previously in 2003, needed an overhaul.

Scott Pace of NSC stated that revised regulations would improve US prospects in the global industry, making it an attractive destination for investment with the right regulations in place.

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