Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Regulation of Light Pollution from Satellites

To increase the speed of broadband internet, companies such as SpaceX and Amazon plan to launch thousands of satellites into the atmosphere, creating networks of “mega-constellations.” The light from mega-constellations interferes with the view of the night sky from Earth, disrupting scientific observation of space. But the FCC does not require Environmental Impact Statements to consider the impact of satellite mega-constellations on the environment. As a result, satellite mega-constellations’ effects have not been examined or regulated by the U.S. government. This Note will evaluate potential avenues for regulation of satellite mega-constellations. Part II examines the current satellite regulation system in the United States and light pollution’s negative effects. Part III then analyzes space law’s ability to address satellite mega-constellations. Part IV then proposes strict regulation of satellite regulations by the FCC and action by the United Nations to set standards for satellite mega-constellations.

* J.D. Candidate, 2023, University of Illinois College of Law; Bachelor of Arts, 2017, Michigan State University. Special thanks to all of those who guided me during the writing of this Note.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.