Last updated: January 9, 2013 - 2:15am
To the delight of American satellite makers, communications satellites — which orbit Earth to relay phone calls, link ships to shore and broadcast television programs — will become legal for civilian export under legislation that President Obama signed into law.
Although the United States founded the industry, manufacturers were forced to pull back from international markets after a 1999 law categorized the satellites as weapons and restricted their export. At the time, Congress was fearful that selling satellites abroad could allow technology secrets to fall into the wrong hands. The defense bill that President Obama signed will undo that step and let American companies sell communications satellites as civilian technology rather than as deadly arms. Among the beneficiaries will be companies like Boeing, Hughes and Space Systems/Loral.
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