The FCC Has Levied a $900,000 Fine Against Swarm for Unauthorized Satellite Launch

cageymaru

Fully [H]
Joined
Apr 10, 2003
Messages
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Swarm Technologies Inc has been ordered to pay a $900,000 fine by the FCC for "unauthorized deployment and operation of satellites, unauthorized operation of earth ground stations, and other unauthorized operation and testing of radio frequency equipment." The FCC had denied Swarm Technologies' application to launch the experimental satellites a month before, but CEO Sara Spangelo allowed the company's Spacebees satellites launch to proceed without authorization. Swarm Technologies admitted to the launch when the FCC discovered it and more infractions such as unauthorized weather balloon-to-ground station tests, unauthorized tests of its satellite and ground station equipment. Swarm has admitted guilt, entered into a 5-year compliance plan, and will pay a $900,000 fine.

Since July, the FCC has allowed Swarm Technologies to operate the Spacebees until February 2019. Swarm Technologies has unfurled its plan to provide affordable global communications for Internet of Things (IOT) devices. The FCC has even allowed the startup to launch three more satellites to provide global internet access on December 3, 2018. The company looks forward to deploying a global constellation in 2019.

When I asked Spangelo why she didn't stop the launch when the FCC denied Swarm's application, she said, "Others have been granted applications after launching their satellites, so we were still hopeful at that point." The FCC declined to comment on whether the agency has approved applications by companies after they carry out a launch.
 

Lakados

2[H]4U
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Feb 3, 2014
Messages
2,297
Well they are already up there.... Fining them out of existence won’t change that.
 

rewted

[H]ard|Gawd
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What's more interesting out of this is that this didn't trigger any sort of news / alert from any space or defense agency... unless they got coordination and the FCC didn't. I would've expected this to be a major incident otherwise.
 

blandead

Limp Gawd
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Nov 6, 2010
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280
You know this happened back in march? This is just the fines they decided to settle with, not much news to any agency

The FCC warned the original design size puts other satellites at risk of a collision, seemed like a reasonable decision

so instead of fixing their design they went to India and launched it in secret
 

Wrecked Em

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Sep 14, 2004
Messages
6,544
We are going to fine you for putting something into space in another country. Because we own space. Didn't you know.
I'm guessing their issue has more to do with transmitting RF into the US, than it does with the satellites being there.

Imagine discovering the hard way that your car's autobrake system no longer worked because some silicon Valley startup decided to start broadcasting across somebody else's spectrum.
 

Wierdo

[H]ard|Gawd
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The agency said the SpaceBees would be too small to be tracked reliably by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network, a military-operated system that catalogs all artificial objects orbiting Earth. Officials seemed to believe this would create a dangerous situation, in which satellite operators might be unable to anticipate and avoid collisions with the SpaceBees. “We cannot conclude that a grant of this application is in the public interest,” wrote Anthony Serafini, the FCC’s experimental-licensing-branch chief, in the rejection notice.
Hmm, so there's some kinda size restriction on satellites, interesting. Did none of the other approved operators have something this small before?
 

Dead Parrot

2[H]4U
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2,831
What's more interesting out of this is that this didn't trigger any sort of news / alert from any space or defense agency... unless they got coordination and the FCC didn't. I would've expected this to be a major incident otherwise.
It wasn't a separate launch. The SpaceBees caught a lift on a rocket with many other payloads. The launch was well known and planned. The SpaceBees listed on the manifest. The SpaceBee company just skipped/ignored the "Get FCC OK Before launch" step.
 

Filter

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Dec 30, 2001
Messages
9,375
always better to ask for forgiveness the permission. dude should be put in jail.
 

blandead

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 6, 2010
Messages
280
Hmm, so there's some kinda size restriction on satellites, interesting. Did none of the other approved operators have something this small before?
If they did then most likely had to include a way for other satellites to detect them or prove it can auto maneuver around them. Maybe both.

There's other factors to consider besides the size, such as the orbital path and distance from earth and how long they can orbit before burning up in the atmosphere.
 

Vader1975

Gawd
Joined
May 11, 2016
Messages
820
I'm guessing their issue has more to do with transmitting RF into the US, than it does with the satellites being there.

Imagine discovering the hard way that your car's autobrake system no longer worked because some silicon Valley startup decided to start broadcasting across somebody else's spectrum.
And you own RF in space? Same issue
 
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