Space Launch Spectrum Proposal, Semiconductors for Defense, EchoStar Satellite Launched

FCC chairwoman pitches spectrum for space launch communications.

Space Launch Spectrum Proposal, Semiconductors for Defense, EchoStar Satellite Launched
Photo of Laura Taylor-Kale of the Department of Defense

July 31, 2023 – Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel introduced new rules Friday that would ensure spectrum certainty for communications services used during commercial space launches.

Private companies need access to reliable and predictable wireless communications as they assume a vital role in the launch and operation of space satellites, scientific exploration, and transportation of astronauts, said Rosenworcel.

“The next-generation Space Age is already here,” she said. “We are seeing more commercial space activity at the agency than ever before, and our overall approach as the designated commercial spectrum regulator must reflect that reality.”

“These rules will ensure commercial space launches have the necessary spectrum resources for reliable communications no matter their mission,” she continued. “These updates will promote economic strength, safety, competitiveness, and innovation.”

The rules would adopt a new allocation in the 2025 to 2110 MHz band for space operations, expand the spectrum available for commercial space operations in the 2200 to 2290 MHz band to include the entire band, and adopt licensing and technical rules for space launch operations.

The rules would also amend the allocation for the 399 to 400 MHz band to permit the deployment of federal space stations. Further comment is requested to inform further actions.

“Today’s action is the latest initiative in the FCC’s Space Innovation agenda,” said Rosenworcel. “As the agency promotes Space Innovation, it also has taken action to advance space safety and responsibility, including by adopting new rules for deorbiting satellites to address orbital debris risks.”

Memo on semiconductor for defense

The commerce and defense departments signed a memorandum of agreement on Wednesday expanding collaboration to strengthen the U.S. semiconductor defense industrial base.

The agreement is said to increase information sharing between the agencies to facilitate coordination on the CHIPS and Science Act, which provides $52.7 billion for American semiconductor research, development, manufacturing and workforce development. It will ensure that the department’s respective investments position the country to produce semiconductor chips essential to national security and defense programs, according to the announcement.

“The MOA is a crucial step forward in implementing the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, a key part of President [Joe] Biden’s Investing in America agenda,” read the press release. “The MOA will advance this agenda to strengthen manufacturing and supply chains here at home, solidify America’s global leadership, and protect long-term national security.”

Assistant Secretary of Defense for industrial base policy, Laura Taylor-Kale, said that “this agreement is an important step forward in increasing the capacity and resiliency of our domestic semiconductor industrial base.”

“It is essential for DoD and DoC to consult one another to ensure we are making complementary investments that support a robust semiconductor industrial base. Both departments are working together to expand domestic semiconductor production capacity in a coordinated fashion,” she continued.

The agreement will align priorities and decision making that will enable a more synchronized approach to promoting a robust semiconductor supply chain, read the press release. It will include sharing information on the semiconductor needs of the defense industrial base, the investment priorities of the DOD and each military service, the existing and planned investments to sustain mature and legacy chip capabilities for current defense programs, and funding to support emerging technologies that are critical to future U.S. national security programs.

EchoStar Satellite launched

Hughes Network Systems, owned by satellite internet provider EchoStar, announced on Saturday that its ultra high-density satellite successfully launched.

The satellite, called JUPITER 3, was engineered to deliver gigabytes of connectivity to customers across North and South America, read the press release.

“JUPITER 3 is the highest capacity, highest performing satellite we’ve ever launched. As the leading provider and investor of satellite internet, we’re proud to herald the start of a new era of connectivity and serve more customers where cable and fiber cannot,” said Hamid Akhavan, CEO of EchoStar.

“This purpose-built satellite is engineered uniquely to meet our customers’ needs and target capacity where it’s needed most, such as the most rural regions of the Americas, so they can stay connected to the applications and services they depend on every day,” he continued.

In the next few weeks, the satellite will move to reach its destination where it will undergo extensive payload testing before entering serve and augmenting the company’s satellite fleet with more than 500 Gbps of additional capacity.

“Whether helping a student in Mexico expand her horizons with access to technology, connecting a farmer in Idaho with the tools to monitor his crops, or connecting a senior in Montana to her doctor via a telehealth appointment, JUPITER 3 will connect our customers to what matters most,” said Akhavan.

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