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Posted in Licensing, Policy & Regulation, Technology Photo of Tony Lin

Smallsat Association Trailblazes Regulatory Path for Smallsat Operators

For many smallsat operators, solving difficult technical problems is the easy part of the mission; obtaining regulatory approvals is the hard part. The Commercial Smallsat Spectrum Management Association (CSSMA) is working to change that.

CSSMA is dedicated to creating a transparent and expedited spectrum coordination process through educational outreach, sharing best practices, and regulatory advocacy. CSSMA formally incorporated a year ago with 9 founding members. It now has over 33 members, including Planet, Spire, Astro Digital, Kepler, The Aerospace Corporation, Kongsberg Satellite Services, Swedish Space Corporation, Infostellar, HawkEye360, Phase Four, RBC Signals, Loft Orbital, Leaf Space, Blue Canyon Technologies, GOMspace, NanoRacks, Kubos, and Analytical Space, among others.

Nicky Spina, Kepler; Beau Backus, NOAA; Katherine Monson, KSAT; and Tony Lin, Hogan Lovells

CSSMA recently held its annual meeting at Utah State University in conjunction with SmallSat 2018.  The all-day program kicked off with an instructional Q&A session with four smallsat panelists discussing U.S. and international licensing challenges and lessons learned.  Following that session was a presentation from the recently formed New Zealand Space Agency regarding the country’s newly implemented satellite licensing regime.

Craig Scheffler, Planet




During the meeting, representatives of CSSMA working groups discussed two major regulatory proceedings for CSSMA this past year: the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) smallsat rulemaking proceeding and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) remote sensing advance notice of proposed rulemaking proceeding.  Both proceedings have the potential to affect the smallsat industry, and CSSMA has been working to ensure that the interests and perspectives of smallsat operators will be considered by the relevant regulatory agency.  CSSMA’s filings in the FCC proceeding can be found here and here; CSSMA’s filing in the NOAA proceeding can be found here.

The meeting also included presentations from the FCC on the status of various satellite proceedings and presentations from NOAA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), providing spectrum coordination guidance. In its presentation, NOAA emphasized the importance for smallsat operators to transition from the use of certain UHF frequencies by October 2020.  Electronic copies of all the presentations can be found here.

Scott Galbraith, NASA

The meeting concluded with the election of the following officers: Craig Scheffler, Planet (President); Jan King, Astro Digital (Chairman); George John, Spire (Treasurer); and Nicky Spina, Kepler (Secretary).

CSSMA is planning two events for the week of Satellite 2019. The first is eight 50-minute sessions on May 6, 2019 for members to meet and discuss spectrum coordination matters regarding their respective systems with spectrum managers of relevant federal agencies (NOAA, NASA, NTIA, and potentially others). The second is a meeting with the Spectrum Frequency Coordination Group (SFCG) on May 10, 2019.  If you want to learn more about CSSMA and future events, contact a CSSMA representative (contact@cssma.space).