COMMISSIONER AJIT PAI
Amendment of Part 2 of the Commission’s Rules for Federal Earth Stations Communicating with
Non-Federal Fixed Satellite Service Space Stations; Federal Space Station Use of the 399.9–
400.05 MHz Band; Allocation of Spectrum for Non-Federal Space Launch Operations
Docket No. 13-115; RM-11341.
50 years ago this month, the last of our country’s pioneering Mercury astronauts went into space.
His name was Gordon Cooper, and his “Faith 7” spacecraft orbited the Earth 22 times. “Gordo” was the
first American to sleep in space, and he would go on to be played memorably on the silver screen by
Dennis Quaid in “The Right Stuff.” Back then, in the 1960s, space was a big deal. The United States
launched rockets and put a man on the moon. Astronauts were our heroes, and space exploration was a
Today, space is even more important to the American way of life. Satellites, for example, play a
vital role in connecting remote communications links with the network, whether you’re a consumer
swiping your credit card at a rural gas station or a first responder using a satellite phone to keep working
through a disaster. But we just don’t think about space that much anymore. Space—it may be the
Not after today. With this item, we advance a bevy of proposals with one overarching aim:
ensuring the efficient use of spectrum for space-related communications. For instance, I am excited that
the Notice proposes to let the federal Argos satellite system use the 399.9–400.05 MHz band. Argos
directs its all-seeing eyes on the global ecosystem, and bringing this long-fallow spectrum into use
promises better environmental data for American scientists.
Another part of the Notice arises from a quirk of federal law, which divides authority over
spectrum use between the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The Notice proposes amendments to our Table of Allocations in order to provide interference protection
to both federal earth stations operating in commercial spectrum and the commercial space industry
operating in federal spectrum. I look forward to reviewing the record that will be compiled in response.
And as we move forward, I hope all parties will remain open to ways to resolve these matters informally,
perhaps through a Memorandum of Understanding.
I would like to thank Julie Knapp, Geraldine Matisse, Mark Settle, Jamison Prime, and Nick Oros
in the Office of Engineering Technology for their work on this item and their thoughtful approach to these
issues. We should all be thankful that space remains at the forefront of their minds.