July 27, 2023

Bipartisan Launch Communications Act Unanimously Passes Through Senate Commerce Committee

WASHINGTON – Today, the Launch Communications Act, originally introduced by Senator Eric Schmitt and Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO), unanimously passed through the Senate Commerce Committee:

“Empowering our innovators is essential in order to remain competitive in space – cutting red tape, removing outdated regulations, and curbing previously complex practices is fundamental when it comes to space modernization. The Launch Communications Act is a critical step to remaining the international leader in space,” said Senator Eric Schmitt.

“Our leadership in space is powered by innovation, and we shouldn’t stifle it with red tape. Modernizing spectrum licensing will help our commercial space industry reach new heights,” said Senator John Hickenlooper.

SpaceX, Blue Origin, and The United Launch Alliance have expressed support for the Launch Communications Act.


·       As the commercial spaceflight industry continues to grow and innovate, the need for more launches in the coming years will grow significantly. Data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shows that 79 commercial launches occurred in 2022. In 2023, one company alone has plans to conduct over 100 launches. This makes it all the more important that regulatory processes at federal agencies are modernized to keep pace with the rapidly growing commercial space industry.

·       The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) current process for licensing spectrum for commercial space launches was created decades ago when there were little to no such launches.

·       As our presence in space expands, the FCC needs to modernize the spectrum licensing process for commercial space launches to ensure the U.S. remains the global leader in space and to address growing threats from China.

o   The FCC’s licensing rules have not kept pace with the growing demand for commercial space launches that support our nation’ scientific, economic, and national security objectives.

o   As commercial space launch providers face enough issues with mission cancellations due to weather and other factors, the FCC’s current process further strains their ability to predict and perform critical launch missions.  

·       The Launch Communications Act provides an immediate solution to resolve current challenges in the FCC’s licensing process by:

o   Requiring the FCC to allocate temporary spectrum access for commercial space launch and reentry activities on a secondary basis within the following frequency bands if approved:

§  2025-2210 MHz, 2200-2290 MHz, 2360-2395 MHz.

o   Allowing launch providers to bundle spectrum applications for multiple similar launches in order to streamline the application process and decrease the administrative burden on providers and the FCC.

o   Instructing the FCC to modernize their current process to better automate the review process for license applications instead of the current manual review process which has resulted in a ground stop of critical launches necessary to maintain U.S. leadership in space.

o   Requiring the FCC to issue new regulations to improve coordination with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to speed up the authorization process.

·       A similar House-version of the Launch Communications Act passed the House earlier this week unanimously.