SpaceBEEs are tiny satellites engineered and exploited by the company Swarm Technologies. In 2018, it made headlines by sending 4 experimental satellites on a ride-share of the Indian rocket PSLV, despite being denied the license to do so by FCC. The Company eventually entered an agreement with FCC, in which it accepted to pay a $900,000 fine (and to abide to a stricter control regime). It’s constellation has now close to 100 LEO satellites (the full constellation should comprise 150).

This story, the first illegal satellites in space history, triggered a number of questions on this site: Did India breach “Space Laws”? Has FCC awarded a license to Swarm Technologies after all? Discussions on these legal issues can be found here, here, here).

Although there is clear evidence that Swarm has now obtained all authorizations to operate commercially its constellation (see here), an interesting follow-up question is:

  • Which state finally took responsibility for the famous first 4 experimental SpaceBEEs, launched in Jan. 2018, whether or not they are operational or has become junk in space?

Note: You may take a look at the so-called Registration Convention (of Objects in Space). Finding the clues to answer my question will lead you, I hope, to interesting "discoveries" with respect to the intent and purpose of this international "law" (and its ambiguities). It may change your perception on the seriousness of the debris issue, especially in LEO. Please share your thoughts and findings.

  • $\begingroup$ I made some updates to the tags, you may want to further refine them, $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 27, 2021 at 9:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh, Thx! I wonder whether a new tag called "space-governance" would be appropriate? The rationale is that there are lot of ambiguities in the current texts of treaties and the more we can raise awareness on this "Fog of Law" situation the more we can hope for a continuing peaceful use of Space. "law","treaty", "regulatory", "international-organizations" are too broad. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Jun 27, 2021 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ There is such a thing as "Fog of tags" as well, so we have to consider the down side of adding a third and related tag. Best way to proceed is to post a "Do we need an X tag?" question in meta. If you take a look there are many of those you can use as a model or template. Generally you need to make an argument why the current tags are inadequate and why a new tag would improve the situation, not cause confusion, how it would be defined and differentiated, and list some questions where it would definitely be better than the current tagging. Not every meta post does that, but you get the idea. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 27, 2021 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ Tags can also be merged by a moderator if the situation calls for it, so if space-governance seems like a better way to group questions than existing tags, that might be a great idea! Best way is to post a question because that opens up a space for people to discuss it, and if/when there is consensus, a moderator may be more likely to take the necessary action. I'd say go for it; ask! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 27, 2021 at 10:56


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