Swarm Technologies applied to the
Federal Communications Commission Fascist Communications Club (FCC) for permission to launch a handful of satellites. The FCC denied the company’s application. But the United States doesn’t have a monopoly on spaceflight so Swarm Technologies shopped around and was able to get its satellites into the air thanks to India. Now the FCC is claiming that it owns all of space:
One company might not have been willing to take “no” for an answer, however. IEEE Spectrum has discovered that the FCC accused startup Swarm Technologies of launching four of its tiny SpaceBEE (Basic Electronic Elements) communication cubesats without obtaining the necessary approvals — in effect, it would be the first satellite maker to go rogue.
The FCC denied Swarm’s application to launch its satellites in December 2017 on the grounds that they posed a safety hazard to other spacecraft orbiting Earth. That apparently wasn’t a deterrent, as the SpaceBEEs appear to have launched aboard one of India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles on January 12th (you’re looking at the rocket above). Needless to say, that left officials fuming. The FCC revoked Swarm’s approval for a subsequent mission that would have taken place this April, citing an “apparent unauthorized launch and operation” of the four satellites.
The fact that the FCC revoked Swarm Technology’s approval for future missions is especially funny since the company demonstrated that it didn’t need FCC approval to get its satellites into space. But doing so probably fed some petty bureaucrat’s power trip and that’s all government approval is capable of doing in a global economy.
The world has become more connected. It’s trivial to communication with people on the other side of the globe in real time. Traveling across oceans takes a matter of hours, not days or weeks. If the government of a region is standing in your way, you can shop around for a region that will allow you to do what you want to do and transport whatever you need to that region. If worst comes to worst, a company can move itself entirely to a friendlier region.