FCC wants to take old satellites out of space after 5 years

The FCC is working on new regulations that would require US low-earth orbit satellites to burn up in the atmosphere for up to five years after their mission ends. That way, the FCC wants to limit the number of satellites in the low-earth orbit.

The regulations would only apply to satellites flying in the low-earth orbit, at less than 2000 kilometers altitude. All US satellite companies should abide by it, but the rule would also apply to foreign companies entering the US market. There will be a two-year transition period for satellite companies to comply with the rule and there would be according to the FCC exceptions to the rule can be requested for satellites with scientific purposes.

It is currently believed that satellites will float to Earth’s atmosphere 25 years after their mission has ended, where they will burn up. This directive was drafted by NASA in 1990, but is by no means binding, and the FCC wants to change that. “We no longer consider it sustainable to keep such satellites in the low-earth orbit for decades,” said the FCC, which will vote on the new regulations on September 29.

Low-earth orbit satellites orbit the Earth at an altitude of up to 2000 kilometers. According to NASA such a satellite must travel at least 7.8 kilometers per second if it is to remain in orbit around the earth. If the satellite slows down, it falls back to Earth where it enters the atmosphere and in some cases burns up completely.