[Satellite TODAY 12-26-12] The United States’ domestic satellite industry received an early Christmas gift late last week when the Senate voted to remove certain International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that were placed on domestic satellite industry exports in 1998 to classify all forms of satellite hardware as munitions and issue responsibility to the Pentagon to control their exportation. The vote on the measure passed Dec. 21, ending nearly 14 years of a domestic aerospace industry drain on international partnerships for national security purposes.
Satellite industry organizations such as the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) have long pushed to reform the government’s ITAR laws, seeking an elected representative as a vocal advocate. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) wrote the export control changes in the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act, predicting the changes would provide a boost to national and local contractors to sell military-cleared satellite components to international customers.
“Colorado is a national hub for the space industry, and these reforms to our satellite export controls will allow businesses to expand their operations and invest in new technologies that will help grow our state’s economy,” Sen. Bennet said in a statement.
The vote on the legislation drew bipartisan support and U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon.
Seakr Engineering President and COO Eric Anderson cited research from the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), which showed that prior to the restrictions, U.S. company sales made up more than 73 percent of the global military and commercial satellite market – a statistic that fell to 25 percent of the world market by 2005.
“Reforming the ITAR process and allowing U.S. satellite and satellite component manufacturers to compete on a level field with foreign sources is vital for the growth and maintenance of the U.S. industrial base,” Anderson said in a statement. “Seakr Engineering has lost market share to foreign competition due to the previous restrictions, and reform is long overdue and welcome.”