DoD To Clarify, Not Rewrite, Guidance on Hosted Payloads

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NEW YORK — The U.S. Department of Defense is working on an addendum to guidance on the utilization of so-called hosted payload that industry officials have complained is too restrictive, according to a Pentagon official.

The addendum is intended to clarify aspects of the guidance that might be subject to misunderstanding, said Charles L Beames, strategic adviser, space and intelligence, in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

“I think it was well intentioned … but at the same time I think there were areas in the letter that probably need better explanation,” Beames said Nov. 14 at the Satcon 2012 conference here.

The document, issued in September by the Pentagon’s chief information officer, lays out guidance for the use of hosted payloads that use radiofrequency spectrum set aside for military use. Satellite industry officials complained that the document was developed without private-sector input and runs counter to existing U.S. space policies that call for leveraging the capabilities of the commercial sector to the full practical extent.

The guidance appears to restrict the movement of commercial satellites hosting military communications payloads and holds operators financially accountable for interference, for example. It also appears to give the government effective control over such satellites in event that the commercial operator declares bankruptcy.

Beames said the guidance has generated a lot of questions but that clarification, and not a rewrite, is in order. He said the addendum will be drafted with input from industry and should be out before the end of the year.