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FCC’s Jessica Rosenworcel Seeks to Mitigate Risk of Satellite Debris With 5-Year Deorbiting Rule

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Jessica Rosenworcel, chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, has proposed new rules that would direct satellite operators to deorbit their spacecraft within five years of concluding their missions in low-Earth orbit to mitigate risks associated with orbital debris.

“Today it is the recommended practice for satellite operators to deorbit their spacecraft within 25 years of completing their missions. But there is no reason to wait that long anymore. … For it to continue to grow, we need to do more to clean up after ourselves so space innovation can continue to expand,” Rosenworcel said in a statement published Friday.

“That is why I am proposing to shorten the 25-year guideline to no more than 5 years. It will mean more accountability and less risk of collisions that increase debris,” she added.

According to the proposed rules, FCC will continue to evaluate whether a shorter post-mission requirement for disposal of satellites is appropriate for large constellation of satellites via individual licensing measures.