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Marion Blakley Advocates Easing Rules on Foreign Sales of U.S. Satellites

Marion Blakely

To begin her AOL Defense article, Marion Blakey says Congress should have reformed the laws governing the export of commercial satellites a long time ago and describes them as an outmoded and counterproductive system intended to enhance national security while inadvertently undermining America’s domestic space industry.

Blakey’s article advocates making the sales of satellites to foreign countries a non-defense matter with less red tape; she uses a number of arguments to back her position.

Blakey first delves into a 1998 Congressional action that restricted the foreign sale of all commercial satellites by putting them on the U.S. munitions list.

According to Blakey, the law was prompted by revelations that a U.S. company transferred data to the Chinese about rocket launch failures, not satellites.

She then talks about the impact the law has had on the U.S. space industry citing facts such as the U.S. has lost $21 billion in satellite manufacturing revenue, lost 9,000 jobs and its market share of space commerce has declined from 70 to 30 percent.

Blakey speaks in length about the process of foreign customers getting U.S. government approval for each new step in the manufacturing process and how it is a deterrent for potential satellite buyers.

She then claims the solution she advocates has broad based support and was recently written into a report called the 1248 report by the Defense Department.

The name of the report comes from the section of law that requires the Defense Department to provide Congress with evidence and guidance to change the law.

This report says that satellites should shift to the Commercial Control List, which is less restrictive than the Munitions List that satellites are currently on.

Blakey sums up by calling for common sense.

She says that the U.S. would still not sell the satellites to countries of concern but could more easily sell to allies and trusted countries.

She ends her op-ed by urging Congress to finalize the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act which includes language that puts satellites on the CCL.

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