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China May Counter Starlink

Reporting from China (February 24) suggests that the country is preparing a near-earth satellite constellation, codenamed “GW,” to counter the Starlink system.

Analysts speculate that China is increasingly concerned about Starlink given its success in preserving communications in Ukraine during the conflict with Russia. And, of course, China believes it should have full control over communications activities and services within its borders and other sensitive areas, which it does not have with Starlink.

The constellation would be made up of nearly 13K satellites, deployed by 2027. Some or all of the satellites could be outfitted with anti-Starlink payloads that have the ability to perform close-range, long-term monitoring of the satellites.

There is speculation that Starlink satellites would be cataloged, monitored, and could eventually be destroyed with future laser or microwave weaponry should the satellites travel over China and other areas where the Chinese government objects to Starlink service.

(posted: 2-27-23)


European Union Planning a Starlink Rival

The European Union (EU) voted in favor (February 15) of developing and deploying a rival Starlink system project called IRIS².

The planned system will encompass a network of 170 satellites to be deployed by 2027 serving both military and commercial needs. It would provide high-speed, low-latency internet connection to Europe, and potentially areas within Africa.

The EU launched its own satellite navigation system decades ago after the US upgraded its global positioning system (GPS) for commercial uses in addition to its original military purposes.

(posted: 2-27-23)


Orbital Debris Rule

The FCC adopted a rule (September 29) that would substantially shorten satellite disposal time-frames. The rule requires satellite operators in low-Earth orbit to dispose of their satellites within 5 years of completing their mission. Prior requirements allowed disposal within 25 years.

(updated: 9-30-22)


White House Space Priorities Framework

The Biden Administration released a Space Priorities Framework ahead of the first Biden Administration meeting of the National Space Council. The Framework includes the following policy priorities related to commercial space and travel:

  • Foster a policy and regulatory environment that enables a competitive and burgeoning U.S. commercial space sector;

  • Protect space-related critical infrastructure and strengthen the security of the U.S. space industrial base;

  • Strengthen global governance of space activities; and, 

  • Bolster situational awareness sharing and space traffic coordination. 

(updated: 2-2-22)


Russia Anti-Satellite Weapons Test

The Federal Government announced (November 15, 2021) that Russia apparently conducted an anti-satellite test that created a large orbiting debris field that has the potential to endanger both commercial and U.S. government orbiting assets. Both NASA and the State Department issued statements condemning Russia's action. Russia confirmed its test, but stated that the resulting debris posed no risk to the International Space Station and its astronauts. 

(updated: 2-2-22)


Commercial Space Stations

NASA is planning to help develop commercially-owned destinations in low earth orbits (LEO) similar in concept to the International Space Station (ISS). In December (2021), NASA announced three financial awards totaling $415.6 million to companies to "stimulate U.S. private sector development of commercial, independent space stations" available to government and private-sector customers. The three awards included: 

(updated: 2-2-22)


Connected Policies


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Artemis Accords
Artemis Accords

This document details principles for cooperation among nations with respect to the peaceful exploration of the moon, Mars, comets and asteroids.

Status: The Accords were put into plaxe in 2020 and have been agreed to by 21 countries (as of July 2022). Saudia Arabia is the latest signatory.

United States Space Priorities Framework
United States Space Priorities Framework

This document sets a priorities framework for the Biden Administration's space policy.

Status: this framework was released in December 2021.


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