September 29, 2022
FCC Adopts ‘5-Year Rule’ for Deorbiting Satellites
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a rule requiring satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) to deorbit within 5 years post-mission. The “5-year rule” updates a previous 25-year deorbit guideline that was mandated by the FCC.
Thousands of projected satellite launches over the next decade and increasing concerns regarding the threat posed by orbital debris, led the FCC to take this step toward protecting the sustainability of high-value orbits.
Taking effect in two years, this new rule requires spacecraft operating at orbit altitudes of 2,000 kilometers or less to deorbit as soon as practicable, and no more than five years after the end of their mission. This applies to both U.S. satellites, as well as international satellites seeking U.S. market access.
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