New Rules Refine Satellite Export Controls

On January 10, 2017, the State Department updated its satellite export control rules under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

The revised rules include several notable changes requested by the commercial space industry and advocated by the Commerce Department, including:

  • Increasing the aperture thresholds for control of remote sensing satellites and components.
  • Eliminating controls based on whether a spacecraft supports human habitation. (Such spacecraft may still be controlled by other criteria.)
  • Redefining several controls based on technical capabilities rather than end use of the spacecraft.
  • Removing and replacing confusing criteria concerning integrated propulsion and attitude control.
  • Adding thresholds for the controls on electric propulsion systems.
  • Clarifying various ambiguities.

Concurrently, the Commerce Department published a revision to its satellite export control rules under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

The new rules take effect January 15, 2017. View them at