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The FCC last week updated its rules around the mitigation of space junk for the first time since 2004, imposing more limits on companies that wish to send their wares to orbit.

Why it matters: Experts are increasingly worried about the number of satellites launching to orbit and how they could contribute to the creation of space junk.

  • Companies like SpaceX and Amazon have big plans to launch potentially thousands of small satellites to low orbits, which — if precautions aren't taken — could clog up parts of space and make it difficult to access them safely.

Details: The new FCC rules are focused on making companies more transparent about their plans to safely de-orbit their spacecraft as they reach the end of their functional lives and how they plan to avoid collisions while in orbit.

  • Because of the new rules, companies will now need to disclose the risk of collision and the possible risk of casualties caused by their satellites re-entering the atmosphere, according to the FCC.
  • The updated rules also lay out guidelines for how companies should share their satellite tracking data.

Yes, but: While the rules place new limits on these ambitious companies, the FCC held back on imposing strict regulations championed by some advocates, according to SpaceNews.

  • The FCC didn't vote on a requirement that satellite constellations pose less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of killing or harming a person as spacecraft are de-orbited.
  • The commission is also planning to continue studying whether companies should be required to compensate the U.S. government if their satellites cause harm in orbit.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Aug 4, 2020 - Science

The U.S. is at risk of attacks in space

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Other nations are catching up to U.S. capabilities in space, potentially putting American assets in orbit at risk.

Why it matters: From GPS to imagery satellites and others that can peer through clouds, space data is integral to American national security.

15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden plan expected to include at least $500B for climate

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House is privately telling lawmakers the climate portion of President Biden's roughly $2 trillion social spending plan is "mostly settled" and will likely cost more than $500 billion, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: A pricetag of $500-555 billion is a huge number and, if it holds, would likely be the single biggest component of the sweeping package. It also isn't far off from the roughly $600 billion proposed when the bill was expected to cost $3.5 trillion.

22 mins ago - World

U.S. presses Gulf countries to help resolve Sudan coup crisis

Jake Sullivan briefs the press. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The Biden administration has asked its partners in the Gulf and elsewhere to press the Sudanese generals who carried out a coup on Monday to release captives including Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and to reinstate the civilian government, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has limited influence over coup leader Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and other military leaders, many of whom have close ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.