Is My Satellite ITAR or EAR?

On November 10, 2014, some satellites, spacecraft, and components were moved from the US Munitions List (USML, ITAR control) and added them to the Commerce Control List (CCL, EAR control):

  • Communications satellites that do not contain classified components or capability
  • Remote sensing satellites with performance parameters below certain thresholds
  • Systems, subsystems parts, and components associated with these satellites and with performance parameters below a certain threshold

The State Department’s summary is that “certain commercial communications and remote sensing satellites” have moved from the ITAR to the EAR. The only way to know whether a specific satellite or spacecraft is still under the ITAR is to review it against Category XV of the USML, which is more specific, more technical, and longer than the previous USML. Following is a subset, omitting elements that seem less relevant to our potential research. The full list can be found in Category XV of the USML.

If your satellite or component is in the list below, it's subject to ITAR control. If not (assuming it doesn't appear in the full list either), it will be subject to EAR control, as described in Category 9 of the CCL.

ITAR-controlled spacecraft and satellite attributes

  • Autonomously track ground, airborne, missile, or space objects in real-time using imaging, infrared, radar, or laser systems
  • Are specially designed to be used in a constellation or formation that when operated together… form a virtual satellite…with the characteristics or functions of other items in [this list]
  • Have any of the following electro-optical remote sensing capabilities or characteristics:
    • Electro-optical visible and near infrared (VNIR) (i.e., 400-1,000nm) or infrared (1,000-30,000nm) with less than 40 spectral bands and having an aperture greater than .35 meters;
    • Electro-optical hyperspectral with 40 spectral bands or more in the VNIR, short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) (i.e., greater than 1,000 to 2,500nm) or any combination of the aforementioned and having a Ground Sample Distance (GSD) less than 30 meters;
    • Electro-optical hyperspectral with 40 spectral bands or more in the mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) (2,500-5,500nm) having a narrow spectral bandwidth of [delta][lambda] less than or equal to 20nm full width at half maximum (FWHM) or having a wide spectral bandwidth with [delta][lambda] greater than 20nm and a GSD less than 200 meters; or
    • Electro-optical hyperspectral with 40 spectral bands or more in the long-wavelength infrared (LWIR) (5,500-30,000nm) having a narrow spectral bandwidth of [delta][lambda] less than or equal to 50nm full width at half maximum (FWHM) or having a wide spectral bandwidth with [delta][lambda] greater than 50nm and a GSD less than 500 meters;”
  • Have radar remote sensing capabilities or characteristics (e.g., active electronically scanned array (AESA), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR), ultrawideband SAR), except those having a center frequency equal to or greater than 1 GHz but less than or equal to 10 GHz and having a bandwidth less than 300 MHz;
  • Provide Positioning Navigation, and Timing (PNT) signals; [Note: this does not control a satellite or spacecraft that provides only a differential correction broadcast for the purposes of positioning, navigation, or timing.]

ITAR-controlled spacecraft parts, components, accessories, etc.

  • Antenna systems specially designed for spacecraft that:
    • have a dimension greater than 25 meters in diameter or length of the major axis, [or]
    • employ active electronic scanning, [or]
    • are adaptive beam forming, or
    • are for interferometric radar;
  • Space-qualified optics (i.e., lens or mirror), including optical coating, having optical properties (e.g. adaptive, deformable) with a largest lateral clear dimension > 0.35m;
  • Space-qualified focal plane arrays (FPAs) having a peak response in the wavelength >900nm and readout integrated circuit (ROIC) specially designed therefor;
  • Space-qualified mechanical (i.e. active) cryocooler or active cold finger, and associated control electronics specially designed therefor;
  • Space-qualified active vibration suppression, including active isolation and active dampening, and associated control electronics specially designed therefore;
  • Optical bench assemblies specially designed to enable spacecraft to meet or exceed the parameters described in [the above list of ITAR-controlled spacecraft and satellite attributes]
  • Space-qualified cesium, rubidium, hydrogen maser, or quantum (e.g. based on Al, Hg, Yb, Sr, Be ions) atomic clocks and associated control electronics specially designed therefor;
  • Attitude determination and control systems, and specially designed parts and components therefor, that
    provide earth location accuracy without using Ground Locator Points better than or equal to:
    • 5m from low earth orbit [or]
    • 30 m from medium earth orbit [or]
    • 150m from geosynchronous earth orbit [or]
    • 225m from high earth orbit;
  • Control moment gyroscope (CMG) specially designed for spacecraft;
  • Space-qualified star tracker or star sensor with angular accuracy less than or equal to 1 arcsec (1-Sigma) per star coordinate, and a tracking rate greater than or equal to 3.0 deg/sec, and specially designed parts and components therefor;
  • Primary, secondary, or hosted payload that performs any of the functions described in [the above list of ITAR-controlled spacecraft and satellite attributes];
    • Primary payload is that complement of equipment designed from the outset to accomplish the prime mission of the spacecraft payload mission set.
    • Secondary payload is the complement of equipment designed from the outset to be fully integrated into the spacecraft payload mission set.
      • All spacecraft that incorporate primary or secondary payloads that perform a function described in paragraph (a) of this category are controlled by that paragraph.
    • Hosted payload is a complement of equipment or sensors that uses the available or excess capacity (mass, volume, power, etc.) of a spacecraft to accommodate an additional, independent mission…which does not dictate control or operation of the spacecraft…
      • An EAR-controlled spacecraft remains a spacecraft subject to the EAR even when incorporating a hosted payload performing a function described in [the above list of ITAR-controlled spacecraft and satellite attributes].
  • Secondary or hosted payload, and specially designed parts and components therefor, developed with Department of Defense funding, unless identified in the relevant Department of Defense contract or other funding authorization as being developed for both military and wither civil or commercial applications (effective with contracts dated May 15, 2015)

"Space-qualified"

  • An article is space-qualified if it is designed, manufactured, or qualified through successful testing for operation at altitudes greater than 100 km above the surface of the Earth
    • A determination that a specific article (or commodity) (e.g., by product serial number) is space-qualified by virtue of testing alone does not mean that other articles in the same production run of model series are space0qualified if not individually tested
    • A specific article not designed or manufactured for use at altitudes greater than 100 km above the surface of the Earth is not space-qualified before it is successfully tested

Spacecraft Data

Neither the ITAR nor the EAR control the data transmitted to or from a satellite or spacecraft, when limited to information about the health, operational status, or measurements or function of, or raw sensor output from, the spacecraft, spacecraft payload(s), or its associated subsystems or components. Examples of such information include

  • system, hardware, component configuration, and operation status information pertaining to temperatures, pressures, power, currents, voltages, and battery charges;
  • spacecraft or payload orientation or position information, such as state vector or ephemeris information;
  • payload raw mission or science output, such as images, spectra, particle measurements, or field measurements;
  • command responses;
  • accurate timing information; and
  • link budget data.