WASHINGTON — U.S. government officials completed a final draft of regulations that will remove some satellite hardware and technology from the U.S. Munitions List, a registry of militarily sensitive technologies whose exports are tightly controlled by the U.S. Department of State.

A copy of the new rules, which go into effect in six months, was submitted to the Federal Register May 7 by Kevin Wolf, assistant U.S. secretary of commerce for export administration, and published by the State and Commerce departments.

Items removed from the Munitions List are placed on the Commerce Control List, which is administered by the less-restrictive Commerce Department.

“With a more modern regulatory environment for exports in place, we look forward to unleashing the full force of American ingenuity and innovation at work in the international market,” Patricia Cooper, president of the Satellite Industry Association, which had spent more than a decade advocating for the changes, said in a prepared statement. 

The changes in the rules are generally intended to remove the arms label from certain widely available space components that, since 1999, have been lumped into Category 15 of the Munitions List. Shifting licensing jurisdiction for those items to the Department of Commerce is expected to ease their export to 36 countries.

Among the items that have been removed from the Munitions List are communications satellites that do not contain classified components, certain remote sensing satellites and most radiation-hardened microelectronic microcircuits, according to a May 13 press release from the State Department. 

Most of the new rules will go into effect after a 180-day waiting period, a delay that was included in part at the urging of the satellite industry.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 paved the way for reform by repealing a 1999 law that placed all space-related hardware and services, regardless of sophistication or availability, on the Munitions List. The new legislation gives the U.S. president the authority to determine licensing jurisdiction for space-related items.

Exports of space-related items to China and certain other countries remain barred.

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Mike Gruss is a senior staff writer for SpaceNews. He joined the publication in January 2013 to cover military space. Previously, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. He...