For the first time since in over a decade, American companies will be permitted to sell and export communications satellites to foreign companies. Such satellites have been in use since the mid-sixties, but in 1999 a new law passed that defined them as weapons, forbidding their export. As The New York Times reports, President Obama has signed a defense bill that reverts the ban and reclassifies communications satellites as civilian technology.
"This is a tremendous assist... it will ensure our place at the forefront of space."
The move will benefit American companies that had their satellite programs crippled by the 1999 ban, but the new bill retains some restrictions. Companies like Boeing will still be forbidden to export satellites to nations like North Korea, China, and Iran. The industry unsurprisingly reacted positively to the news; "this is a tremendous assist for an industry that is inherently international," the president of the Satellite Industry Association told The New York Times, "it will ensure our place at the forefront of space."