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It’s so what ironic that even with increased standardisation in space communication, everything in orbit gets dragged into a mess of FCC/ACMA/OFCOM/ITU/etc red tape.

It’s bad enough I’m genuinely keeping a notebook of engineering thoughts on how to do ground to orbit communication optical/laser only, I could use the $130K AUD fee that the ACMA (Australian FCC equivalent) charge to file the paperwork to have any radio in space.

My long term hope is we get to some kind of ISM equivalent licensed bands with wiFi device style pre-certification possibilities… but it’s more likely we’re going to see large scale laser communication systems before the glacier of radio regulations catches up here.




I guess you would need to specify how the satellite transmits as well as how the user equipment works. Maybe limits on beam size and transmit power?


Yes, these kinds of things would be needed, and are already part of the licensing regime for terrestrial radio devices around the world. But the issue is enforcing violations, both accidental and deliberate, which space makes… harder to do than on the ground.

On top of that there is a massive “perceived risk” culture in the intersection of Radio and Aerospace, you see it most commonly when you notice “airplane mode” requirements during takeoff and landing. With safety critical equipment being required to function correctly irrespective of RF interference (mandating shielding and that sort of thing) but despite operating in the vicinity of all the mobile phone towers and Wi-Fi hotspots on the ground at an airport, you still get asked to turn your (much lower power) transmitters off during takeoff, and back in the day off for the entire flight. In flight Wi-Fi was a very very slow rollout world wide because of the layers of recertifications necessary to make any change to the operating environment of a plane. (Not an plane expert that’s my best summary)

Now planes are expensive but satellites are way more expensive and basically impossible to fix, so no one is going to budge at all since they can’t get any real assurances the introduction of extra cubesat “space Wi-Fi” won’t break their big satellites. On top of this, there’s layers of treaty that bind countries to being responsible for not interfering in the space operations of other countries and these just all combine into a huge ball of red tape.

I worked out I could 3d print a cubesat powered by a raspberry Pi and if you don’t count the launch cost, it’s 90% permits and paperwork. $10k in engineering and metal 3d printing a robust frame t survive launch environment etc ( which I know can probably be cheaper ) and over AU$175,000 …




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