Within five to seven years, more satellites will be launched into space than in the history satellites. Space policy hasn’t been a high priority on our government’s agenda. Today’s most innovative companies’ plans are being disrupted by antiquated rules and regulations. The United Nations established the “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” in 1967 also known as The Outer Space Treaty. The agreement states that each nation shall be responsible for all and any of the space activities originating from their nation and maintain control over all space objects originating from their country.

The current system in place for launch permits involves getting permission from the FCC which requires all permit applicants to prove that their satellite won’t cause injury or harm when/if it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere. Among the many check boxes, the FCC also requires launch permit applicants to prove that their satellites will be able to be tracked and monitored in space. Because of these requirements, it is very difficult to be able to obtain a permit. Faced with this prospect, ambitious startups will be tempted to push the boundaries to see just how severe the penalties will be for operating without a permit.

An alternative exists: a company can try to export their satellite to another country and try their hand in that country’s permitting process. Because of The Outer Space Treaty, the U.S. will always be required to monitor all satellites from our nation. New Space renegades will continue to explore and push boundaries which may be their only solution. If our government continues to ignore the need for comprehensive space policy, it’s just a matter of time before a major civil, commercial or international dispute occurs in space that could prove legally catastrophic.