The FCC has settled an investigation into an alleged unauthorized launch and operation of small satellites by Swarm Technologies. The company agreed to a Consent Decree that included a $900,000 penalty, an extended period of FCC oversight, and a requirement of pre-launch notices to the FCC, among other stipulations.
“We will aggressively enforce the FCC’s requirements that companies seek FCC authorization prior to deploying and operating communications satellites and earth stations,” FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Rosemary Harold said. “These important obligations protect other operators against radio interference and collisions, making space a safer place to operate.”
In April 2017, Swarm applied for an Experimental license to deploy and operate two Earth stations and four tiny 0.25 U CubeSats called SpaceBEEs. The FCC denied Swarm’s application in December 2017 over concerns about the ability to track the satellites. Swarm nevertheless launched the satellites on January 12, 2018, on a vehicle that also carried an Amateur Radio satellite into space. After reports of the unauthorized SpaceBEEs launch surfaced, the FCC launched an investigation last March.