Broadcast 3126 Dr. Brendan Cunningham

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Guest:  Dr. Brendan Cunningham; Topics:  Satellite spectrum warehousing, FCC & ITU orbital slot information, competition, space salvage, orbital debris, satellite frequency values and markets.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,   Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See


We welcomed Dr. Brendan Cunningham to the show for this two segment one hour 39 minute discussion around the topic of both LEO and GEO spectrum warehousing by private satellite companies.  We started our discussion by asking our guest to introduce us to the problem of spectrum warehousing and to share with us the several potential issues and problem brought about by this practice.  We spent a good part of the program discussing these issues, including FCC and ITU regulation, commercial satellite competition, the value of the orbital slots and the consideration that these orbital slots and frequencies are considered a commons.


The question of is this or that in space being a commons was a significant part of the discussion.  We talked about comments made by Dr. Scott Pace earlier this year suggesting that US policy would not reflect space as a commons. In addition, our guest suggested commercial space values might decline without the stability offered by the commons.  Much was said about the commons argument by our guest and listeners so you do want to pay attention to this particular part of the discussion.  What do you think about space as a commons and in particular frequency allocation orbits?  Is there a benefit to being a commons?  Let us know your thoughts by posting your comments on the blog. 

Dr. Cunningham also talked about orbital slot incentives, plus he told us about his presentation on this subject at the recently held ISDC in Los Angeles.  Several times during the discussion he referred to those not agreeing with the commons argument as being "economic flat earthers."  In addition, he suggested as said before, that global values decline without the stability and regulatory regime of the commons.

Space debris was a topic along with the Kessler Syndrome given all the satellites, launcher parts and other debris put into space, especially LEO over the past decades. A listener brought up OneWebb and SpaceX and I asked if there was any way to know if these organizations actually planned on launching all the satellites they say they want to launch or if they were just warehousing.  Brendan suggested some possible telling signs including the level of the company capitalization and the expertise the company in question brings to the table.  That is, is the company credible?  Listener Helen asked a question pertaining to space as a resource and then Mac asked about laser communication satellites.  Before the first segment ended, Sally inquired about a satellite frequency resale market and since frequencies were allocated to different nations could they be sold internationally. 

We started the second segment with a call by Michael Listener who talked about space salvage based on the comments made about it in the first segment.  Michael explained the law of salvage and told us how sea salvage differed from space.  Don't this this mini detailed salvage discussion.  Michael and Brendan had a good discussion about the issue.

Brendan then introduced us to the Economic Kessler Syndrome, a topic he discussed during his panel presentation at the ISDC this year.  Make sure you listen to his analysis and how his economic team is modifying the model to include humans and their decisions in the lop.  Brendan does a good job of explaining this but if you have questions, please post them on the blog.  As for ISDC in general, Brendan had much to say about the programming and as he said, "the incredible venue."  He talked about Virgin Orbit, Rocket Lab, the fast past of innovation, and the value of exposure for the concepts, company's and the industry.

BJohn in Sweden sent in a question pertaining to the Bezos vision of moving manufacturing off Earth.  He wanted to know which manufacturing industries would be the first to spend $100 millions on taking advantage of the space environment.  Don't miss how Brendan responded to this question.  Near the end of the program, Todd wanted to know how one would economically evaluate a government satellite project compared to a commercial satellites that needs to produce an ROI for the investors.  John in Redding wanted to know about space tourism and when it would become an economic winner. 

In his closing comments, our guest said this was an exciting time for sure for the space industry.  Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  You can reach Dr. Cunningham through his university website page or me.




warehousing satellites for competitive frequency positions

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03 Jun 2018 Dr. Brendan Cunningham
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