AMSAT Wants Amateur Radio Satellites Off US Munitions List

ITARThe ARRL report that AMSAT has asked the federal government to confirm that the Amateur Satellite Service will not be subject to International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), as a result of export control reforms now underway.

The ARRL news story says:

In May the US Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) proposed changes to the US Munitions List (USML) Category XV (Spacecraft Systems and Related Articles). The changes redefine satellites that would remain under the USML. Satellites removed from USML would be transferred to the Department of Commerce Commerce Control List (CCL).

“We ask that the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls explicitly confirm that satellites, ground equipment, and associated technical data for items pertaining to the Amateur Satellite Service are not subject to the ITAR when the new Category XV provisions are implemented,” AMSAT said in comments filed earlier this month “Over the past 43+ years AMSAT has been integral to the development of Amateur Radio communications spacecraft based upon the model of an all-volunteer organization that follows ‘open source’ practices and creates spacecraft that are very low cost, which also reflects relatively low levels of sophistication compared to commercial satellites,” AMSAT said.

A related set of AMSAT comments went to the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which has proposed creating a separate CCL category for satellites formerly under ITAR. AMSAT asked that Amateur Satellite Service spacecraft and associated equipment be separately categorized and controlled, given the significant differences between commercial and Amateur Satellite Service spacecraft.

“We ask that the Department of Commerce recognize the relative impacts of regulatory oversight on small, not-for-profit scientific and education organizations such as AMSAT and to find ways to mitigate these impacts on both AMSAT and our volunteers,” AMSAT said. AMSAT suggested creating a separate category for Amateur Satellite Service; allow a license exception for “deemed exports” for Amateur Radio satellite design and construction, to permit a “free exchange of ideas, software, etc pertaining to Amateur Radio satellite design and construction when interacting with foreign nationals who are citizens of nations listed in the License Exception Strategic Trade Authorization Country List, and focus export licensing requirements only on the export of hardware.

AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW, and AMSAT Congressional Liaison Peter Portanova, WB2OQQ, took on the task of drafting comments in response to a combined 105 pages of bureaucratese drafted by the DDTC and the BIS. Former AMSAT President Bill Tynan, W3XO crafted initial comments as a starting point.

Source ARRL http://www.arrl.org/news/amsat-wants-amateur-satellites-off-us-munitions-list

April 2012 – ITAR and Amateur Radio – Progress Report
https://amsat-uk.org/2012/04/29/itar-and-amateur-radio-progress-report/

ITAR and Amateur Radio – Progress Report

ITARSince the inception of The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) in 1999, all US-built satellites have been subject to the US Munitions List, including amateur radio, education and university satellite projects.

The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) under the Department of State (DoS) manages ITAR. ITAR has curtailed AMSAT’s collaboration with foreign nationals on Amateur Radio Satellite projects, as well as with universities that have foreign students enrolled as any technical exchanges concerning satellite technology with non-US citizens brought the potential for Federal prosecution.

On November 1, 2011, Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) introduced H.R. 3288: “Safeguarding United States Satellite Leadership and Security Act.” In summary, this act would authorize the President to remove commercial satellites and related components from the United States Munitions List.  However, while AMSAT was pleased to see this draft bill, there were concerns that “commercial satellites” could be interpreted as not including amateur radio and education satellites.

Consequently, earlier this year AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW appointed AMSAT NY Area Coordinator Peter Portanova, WB2OQQ as AMSAT’s Congressional Liaison to establish relationships that would put AMSAT on the radar regarding H.R. 3288 to ensure that amateur radio and education satellites would be included in the final bill. Peter’s appointment was based in part on his success in leading a delegation to meet with Congressman Peter King on H.R. 607 in 2011 that resulted in the amendment of that bill to protect the amateur and amateur satellite frequencies that were being considered for auction. Peter was clearly qualified to lead AMSAT’s efforts to ensure that amateur radio and education satellites would be included in such a bill. Peter notes, “What we accomplished on 607 validates that ‘grass roots’ efforts can be successful”. Over the past few months, AMSAT, under Peter’s guidance has taken steps to meet with key personnel involved in the legislative process in Washington to make them aware of AMSAT, the importance of amateur radio satellites in the development of education outreach and potential for emergency communications.  All of these meetings have been successful in building awareness of the need to have amateur radio satellites (as well as education satellites) removed from the US Munitions List and placed under the Department of Commerce Control List.

While H.R. 3288 has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, this initiative was being held up pending a joint report from the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of State (DoS) required by Section 1248 of the FY2010 Defense Authorization Act wherein Congress directed DoD to assess whether national security would be negatively impacted by moving satellites from the US Munitions List (USML) to the Commerce Control List (CCL).  Clearly, the politicians were awaiting this report before deciding whether to support H.R. 3288.

On April 18, 2012 the long awaited “1248” report was released by DoD and DoS: “Risk Assessment of United States Space Export Control Policy,” that addresses the risks associated with removing satellites and related components from the United States Munitions List (USML).

The report identifies several satellite types, and related items, that are not purely defense-related and should not be designated as defense articles on the USML or controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

The Departments recommended that the following items are more appropriately designated as dual-use items on the Commerce Control List (CCL) and controlled under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR):

(1) Satellites that do not contain technologies unique to military applications or critical for maintaining a military edge;
(2) Communications satellites (COMSATs) that do not contain classified components;
(3) Remote sensing satellites with performance parameters below certain thresholds; and
(4) Systems, subsystems, parts and components associated with those satellites.

From AMSAT’s perspective, this is certainly good news for the satellite industry from both a commercial and amateur radio/education perspective. In particular, placement of amateur radio satellites under EAR would remove the most onerous impacts of ITAR, allowing for example, free exchange of technical information with foreign nationals, allowing collaboration on satellite projects.

Actual export of hardware, however, would be controlled by the Department of Commerce. That said, it is too early to draw any conclusions as a 180-day review process has now begun. If the recommendations of the “1248 Report” are accepted, it could pave the way for H.R. 3288 or a bill drafted in response to the “1248 recommendations” to move forward. However, given the tendency of Congress to put off major decisions from May onward pending Fall elections, AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW believes that it is likely, based on the current Congress and other factors, very little will occur within the 112th Congress. In Barry’s words, “We are pleased with our initiatives to this point; however these activities are still a work in progress.” The AMSAT Board, along with AMSAT’s Congressional Liaison, will stay focused on these activities and report to the membership as information becomes available.

The 44 page “Department of Defense/Department of State Report to Congress Section 1248 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111 – 84): RISK ASSESSMENT OF UNITED STATES SPACE EXPORT CONTROL POLICY” is available on-line in PDF format at: http://tinyurl.com/DoD-1248-Report

Bloomberg Business Week article on ITAR:
http://tinyurl.com/BusinessWeek-ITAR (www.businessweek.com)

Source: AMSAT News Service (ANS)

ITAR – Section 1248 Report Released

ITARThe International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) inexplicably applies to amateur radio satellites. It threatens US hams with jail terms or six figure fines if they cooperate with amateurs outside the USA on satellite projects. Cooperation includes talking about or publishing on the web certain information regarding amateur radio satellite systems.

US Department of Defense (DoD) has recommended some US-built satellites and components should be transferred from the US Munitions List (USML) to the Commerce Control List (CCL), allowing greater export flexibility.

Known as the Section 1248 report after the section of the 2010 DoD authorisation bill that commissioned it, the report recommends that authority to classify communications satellites and certain remote sensing satellites, as well as many satellite components, be returned to the president.

The report says:

The review determined that the following items do not contain technologies unique to military applications or critical for maintaining a military edge:

– Communications satellites (COMSATs) that do not contain classified components;
– Remote sensing satellites with performance parameters below (worse than) thresholds identified in Appendix 1 paragraphs (a)(7)(i) – (iv); and
– Systems, subsystems, parts and components associated with these satellites and with performance – parameters below thresholds specified for items remaining on the USML.

The above items no longer meet the definition of a defense article. However, they can provide important military functionality. Although the United States and other space-faring nations have technologies and satellites far more capable than the items identified above, those dual-use technologies can be used by countries with less experience and expertise in space to generate basic, initial military communications, remote sensing assets, and satellite jamming capabilities.

The controls typically applied to dual-use items on the Commerce Control List (CCL) are sufficient to safeguard and monitor the export of the identified items.

Read the Section 1248 Space Export Control Report
http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2011/0111_nsss/docs/1248_Report_Space_Export_Control.pdf

A 2009 IARU Region 3 report highlights that ITAR requirements made AMSAT-NA direct its members to cease cooperation with AMSAT-ZL in the development of KiwiSAT http://www.iaru-r3.org/14r3c/docs/046.doc

ITAR impact on the Eagle project – try archive.org with  http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/eagle/

The 2005 amateur radio P3E IHU project killed by ITAR http://www.amsat-dl.org/p3e/bericht-ihu3-0205-e.pdf

ITAR impact on satellite launches http://www.spacequest.com/Articles/SSC03-II-1%20SpaceQuest.pdf

2011 ITAR submission by the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT)
http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/images/fck_images/AMSAT%20ITAR%20Comments%20Final.pdf

2009 AMSAT files CJ requests with US State Department
http://www.southgatearc.org/news/august2009/amsat_files_cj_requests.htm

ITAR in ARRL Executive Committee Minutes http://www.uk.amsat.org/6542

Bloomberg: Satellite Export Controls Should Be Eased, U.S Says
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-04-18/satellite-export-controls-should-be-eased-u-dot-s-says

ITAR in ARRL Executive Committee Minutes

ITARThe minutes of the ARRL Executive Committee, Number 496, March 24, make reference to the US Federal Government ITAR regulations. These regulations put US radio amateurs under threat of jail terms or six figure fines if they even talk about certain aspects of their hobby.

ITAR has prevented US amateurs from co-operating with other amateurs around the world on projects such as the P3E satellite and the New Zealand KiwiSat.

ITAR regulations made it almost impossible for AMSAT-NA to work with their international AMSAT partners on the Eagle project and forced the Eagle Wikipeadia to be shutdown.

The recent involvement of the ARRL in this matter is very welcome, the minutes say:

4.1.7. AMSAT has been in communication with the ARRL regarding problems it faces as a result of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which inexplicably apply even to amateur satellites. The ARRL Board received a briefing as described at Minute 29 of its January 2012 meeting. Chief Technology Officer Brennan Price, N4QX, accompanied AMSAT representatives to a meeting on Capitol Hill. ARRL will continue to cooperate with AMSAT as it seeks a solution.

The minutes of the ARRL Executive Committee, Number 496, March 24, can be read at
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/About%20ARRL/Board%20Meetings/ecmin496.pdf

A 2009 IARU Region 3 report highlights that ITAR requirements made AMSAT-NA direct its members to cease cooperation with AMSAT-ZL in the development of KiwiSAT. http://www.iaru-r3.org/14r3c/docs/046.doc

ITAR impact on the Eagle project http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/eagle/

The 2005 amateur radio P3E IHU project killed by ITAR http://www.amsat-dl.org/p3e/bericht-ihu3-0205-e.pdf

ITAR impact on satellite launches http://www.spacequest.com/Articles/SSC03-II-1%20SpaceQuest.pdf

HamRadioNow – AMSAT Edition

In this HamRadioNow video Lou McFadin W5DID describes the ARISSat-1 satellite, using the operational model at the AMSAT booth at the Orlando HamCation. HamRadioNow says Gary KN4AQ feels inadequate in the presence of such accomplished hams, and he insults the astronauts. That makes Lou uncomfortable, so he goes on to talk about the future of AMSAT and ARISSat.

Lou says that the reason for the ARISSat-1 435 MHz antenna snapping off was due to damage in transit up to the Internatonal Space Station (ISS). He mentions that he hopes NASA can be persuaded to take ARISSat-2 to the ISS. Lou also describes the problems caused by the US Federal Government ITAR restrictions.

Watch HamRadioNow Episode 2, Part 2 – AMSAT

The grab handles shown on ARISSat were supplied by a member of AMSAT-UK.

HamRadioNow http://HamRadioNow.TV/

YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/HamRadioNow