Those Pictures Of The Tesla In Space Might Have Been Illegal
SpaceX's flashy footage from orbit might run afoul of an obscure federal regulation. If you watched the SpaceX’s last satellite launch, you might have seen the livestream from orbit shut down mid-flight. But it wasn’t technical difficulties, so much as bureaucracy.
It seems SpaceX didn’t have the necessary licence to broadcast videos from orbit, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rule says that anything larger than a hand-held camera that broadcasts from space needs a special permit. It’s said to be a matter of national security, but SpaceX has been setting up cameras on it’s rockets for years and has never sought a permit.
That includes the starmen shots from the Falcon heavy demo flight which livestreamed a Tesla in space with Earth in the background. NOAA didn’t go out of its way to enforce the rule either, as if it was never officially informed that SpaceX had started sticking cameras on its rockets. This is despite millions of people seeing footage. In fact, SpaceX asked NOAA about the rules ahead of this last launch and NOAA started enforcing them so suddenly that even some parts of the agency thought it might have been a mistake.
However, a NOAA statement clears that up, the agency says it will hold SpaceX and other launch companies to those rules going forward. Congress is also considering lining the rules on commercial cameras and orbit, so mixups like this don’t happen as often. It’s not clear if future permits will let SpaceX broadcast whole launches, but some missions will be fair game. NASA cameras on the international space station captured footage that is public domain. What are your thoughts on this issue? Let us know in the comments below!