COLORADO SPRINGS — Efforts to streamline and accelerate space licensing procedures to keep up with rapid innovation are bearing fruit, according to a Space Symposium panel of regulators. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now takes just 15 days to issue a commercial remote sensing license, said Glenn Tallia, the regulator’s chief legal counsel for weather, space services and research.

That’s down from 50 to 100 days before NOAA streamlined regulations in 2020 and is “almost embarrassingly short,” Tallia quipped.

However, “it’s not because it’s a rubber stamp,” Talia added, but the result of standardizing how different companies and capabilities are treated in the application process. 

Julie Kearney, chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s recently created Space Bureau, said the regulator hopes to introduce streamlined rules for satellite applications “really soon” after closing a comment period.

The FCC recently said it is wading through applications for more than 60,000 new satellites as demand soars for constellations in low Earth orbit (LEO).

Kearney also stressed that work to accelerate licensing regimes comes alongside a simultaneous focus on sustainability.

She pointed to how the regulator adopted rules in September that would shorten the time operators must remove defunct LEO satellites from 25 to five years, although this item is “in a little bit of a holding pattern” while it clears administrative issues.

Jason Kim, acting chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Space Commerce, said he had hoped new export control rules for spacecraft and launch vehicles would be announced before the Space Symposium. Kim now expects the new rules, which the State Department is still reviewing, to be released by the end of the year.

Julie Zoller, head of global regulatory affairs for Amazon’s Project Kuiper broadband constellation, welcomed the progress U.S. regulators are making to streamline their licensing regimes.

Space is a global business, she said during the panel, and “other countries and regions follow our lead — and so whatever we do well, those benefits extend to others, whatever we don’t get right, those problems magnify.”

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...