San Diego Business Journal Viasat Inc. (Nasdaq: VSAT) is sounding the alarm about debris orbiting the Earth.

In particular, the Carlsbad company is being vocal about what’s going on in Low Earth Orbit, where competitors are building what are known as a “mega-constellations” with thousands of small communication satellites.


John Janka Global Chief Government Affairs and Regulatory Officer Viasat Inc.

SpaceX is one of the prominent players, with its Starlink satellites. The business launched 51 of them on Sept. 13 from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara. According to published reports, a second generation of Starlink is expected to have almost 30,000 satellites. Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) is also building a Low Earth Orbit constellation, as is a Chinese player and others. Viasat has some projects in Low Earth Orbit.

Space debris poses a danger to other craft in orbit, Viasat said. The company said that federal officials need to tighten regulations as the business community launches “a new space age” with a new generation of satellites. Regulatory bodies include the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The cost of getting access to space has dropped dramatically, said John Janka, global chief government affairs and regulatory officer. Janka said if something goes wrong with one of the thousands of satellites in Low Earth Orbit, it will create a hazard.

If you make a mistake on Earth, you get out the trash bin, he said. If you make a mistake in space, you get a debris field traveling at tens of thousands of kilometers per hour. Janka likened it to “a car on the freeway with no brakes or steering.” Other traffic needs to get out of the way to stay in one piece.

Viasat Inc.
CEO: Rick Baldridge
BUSINESS: Broadband services and technologies company
REVENUE: $2.26 billion in fiscal 2021 (Viasat’s fiscal year ends on March 31); $2.31 billion in fiscal 2020
NET INCOME: $3.69 million in fiscal 2021; ($200,000) in fiscal 2020
STOCK: VSAT on Nasdaq
NOTABLE: Viasat provides in-flight communications service to Air Force One
CONTACT: (760) 476-2200