Space Launch Technology

Satellite technology orbiting the earth

A U.S. company, as a result of their early international marketing efforts, develops a Technology Assistance Agreement (TAA) to work with a foreign company on space technology. This TAA is submitted as a request for an export license to the Department of State (DoS) or to the Department of Commerce (DoC), whichever is applicable. Depending on the case the DOC will request that companies request an Export license from the DoS for Launch Campaign operations which might require Space Monitoring and that a Technology Transfer Control Plan be developed and submitted to the DTSA Technology Directorate (TD), Missiles & Space Division (TDS). Interagency efforts continue when the DoS sends the license request to DTSA’s Technology Directorate (TD), via DTSA’s Licensing Directorate (LD). DTSA/TDS reviews the scope of the TAA, and recommends limitations to be imposed on the U. S. Company based on a complete review that incorporates the level of defense articles and defense services for the specific technology to be exported, with a view toward the global significance of the export and the effects on U.S. National Security if it were compromised.

As a result of the DoS, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) provisos, Special Export Controls (SEC) might be required. SECs apply to technical assistance and may require review of technical data exported in pre-launch, launch, and post-launch activities. DoD Monitoring requirements may also be imposed and are dictated by law. There are three possible provisos for SECs (each having multiple variations) that could be added to an export license:

  1. A Technology Transfer Control Plan (TTCP) Proviso, ensuring that companies develop and maintain a TTCP throughout the life of the license. This TTCP will need to be approved by DTSA/TDS, via Spacelink
  2. A Data Review Proviso, requiring technical data to be reviewed by DTSA/TDS, prior to export. This is accomplished via Spacelink.
  3. Physical Monitoring of Technical Interchanges Proviso, requiring a DTSA/TDS monitor to be present as an observer at all technical interchanges associated with the export license, unless otherwise waived. This proviso will dictate that DTSA “MUST monitor”, indicating a mandatory/reimbursable program, or that DTSA has a “right to monitor”, indicating a discretionary/non-reimbursable program.

After the DoS/DDTC approves the export request and applies the appropriate provisos to the authorization, industry is required to interact with DTSA/TDS to obtain access to Spacelink and receive cost estimates (when applicable) to reimburse DTSA’s costs of supporting the company’s program. TDS interacts with Industry to upload license files into Spacelink and in the development of TTCPs. Once DTSA/TDS approves the TTCP, it is uploaded into Spacelink and the company is authorized to export data and provide defense services and/or technology. The TTCP defines how the technology will be protected from inappropriate transfers.

Interactions between Industry and TDS may point to licensing issues which may require a proviso modification. This in turn leads to intra-departmental interactions through LD to obtain clarification and possible provisos reconsideration from the DTCC or DoC. These export authorizations often lead to launches of U.S. spacecrafts or components on international launch vehicles.