Satellite and Space Technology

  • Holland & Knight's Satellite and Space Technology Team provides a full suite of legal, regulatory and legislative services to entrepreneurs, startup companies and global industry players.
  • We couple our decades of industry-focused experience with our full-service and cross-border capabilities to advise on virtually every significant area within the satellite and space technology industry.
  • Members of our multidisciplinary team are strategically located in Washington, D.C., the Florida Space Coast, Colorado, Texas, California and other key markets in the U.S. and internationally to handle clients' international operations and legal matters.
Satellite and Space Technology


The complex legal and technical issues facing satellite and space technology companies require lawyers with in-depth knowledge and experience across a broad range of areas. Holland & Knight's Satellite and Space Technology Team provides a full suite of legal, regulatory and legislative services to entrepreneurs, startup companies and global industry players.

Our 360-degree approach arms clients with the broad resources of a full-service firm and deep industry experience that rivals the most respected boutique firms.

With attorneys strategically located in Washington, D.C., the Florida Space Coast, Colorado, Texas, California and other key markets in the U.S and around the globe, we provide seamless service to help our clients develop and deploy new innovations and projects within the global satellite communications and space technology field.

We have particularly deep experience in advising startups on company formation, as well as in counseling other market participants in regulatory and legislative matters, corporate transactions, national security and export controls matters, investigations and litigation.

Our partner ranks include five former members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including one who served on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, as well as a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) counsel, a U.S. Department of State official, a former U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) officer, a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and others who have held high-level government positions.

For decades, Holland & Knight has represented satellite service providers and space technology companies before government agencies and international regulators, including the:

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Space Council (NSpC)
  • National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
  • U.S. Air Force (USAF)
  • U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) Office of Space Commerce
  • U.S. Department of State (DOS) Office of Space Affairs
  • U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM)
  • U.S. Space Force (USSF)

We leverage our diverse experience in the public and private sectors, as well as our long-standing relationships with members of Congress and government agencies, to help clients receive the approvals that they need to overcome regulatory and legal challenges and advance their business goals.

Regulatory and Compliance

We understand space technology and satellite companies are saddled with a complex and ever-shifting regulatory landscape. Our broad experience enables us to handle the full spectrum of regulatory hurdles they face, from gaining launch and reentry permits to spectrum allocation to space access agreements to remote sensing authorizations to obtaining facility clearances to perform classified government contracting (including special security agreements and proxy agreements as part of FOCI mitigation), as well as a host of environmental, national security, FAA and Coast Guard-related issues. We also counsel early-stage technology companies on developing U.S. regulatory compliance frameworks that address these issues.

Launch and Reentry

We support the expansion of space exploration and interspace activities by helping startups and established businesses with emerging technologies to secure launch, reentry, launch operator, and experimental licenses and permits. Our intimate understanding of the goals and concerns of government agencies, such as the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation, enables us to efficiently navigate the regulatory process and earn approvals.

FCC Policy

We have a long history of advocating on behalf of clients to help shape FCC policies governing global satellite systems that provide fixed and mobile voice and data services in all regions of the world.

Our experience includes guiding clients in creating the U.S. "transborder" satellite process through extended domestic and international negotiations – now well-established in U.S. telecommunications policy. We were instrumental in co-founding the world's first privately owned operational international satellite system and securing FCC licenses through extensive domestic and international regulatory efforts and congressional lobbying. We also were quick to secure one of the first FCC-issued global mobile satellite service licenses in the U.S.

Today, our lawyers continue to advise on an array of domestic and international regulatory matters, including spectrum allocation issues, satellite and earth station licensing, and compliance with all applicable FCC rules.

Environmental Matters

We advise corporations, developers, lenders and investors on environmental aspects of transactions and real estate projects involving the construction or installation of launch sites, earth stations and other projects. We handle related regulatory compliance matters, due diligence, tax credits, insurance matters, toxic tort and contract disputes, and complex project development and permitting, including those under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Coast Guard

Backed by Holland & Knight's Transportation & Infrastructure Industry Sector Group – ranked nationally in the prestigious Chambers USA guide – our team helps clients navigate matters intersecting commercial space and maritime law.

Our team includes attorneys with prior experience at the USCG and other government agencies, enabling us to provide a dual perspective on the legal and regulatory gaps and hurdles in the commercial space-maritime arena.

We remain at the forefront of discussions with the USCG as it coordinates space activities in the marine environment with NASA, NOAA, USSF, USAF, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and other agencies to expand space capabilities and strengthen safety and security.

Export Control and National Security Issues

Our attorneys represent U.S. and foreign satellite manufacturers and operators, satellite communications, imaging and navigation companies, government contractors, launch service providers and other clients in all aspects of national security-related regulatory compliance, foreign investment regulations, industrial security matters for classified contractors, and export controls and international trade compliance matters.

Export Controls and International Trade Compliance

Our team is a market leader in providing sophisticated and multifaceted regulatory counsel on a variety of international trade matters impacting the space and satellite industry. We advise our clients on compliance with a broad range of cross-border legal and regulatory matters – including U.S. and multilateral economic sanctions, export controls such as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and foreign military sales issues – and represent them before the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), U.S. Department of State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) and DOD to obtain licenses or other U.S. government authorization necessary to consummate investment, financial and export transactions.

Our attorneys advise on export control issues related to satellite manufacturing, payload development and deployment, launch, joint ventures and operations in the U.S. and overseas, including approval of agreements, licenses and technology transfer control plans. We also guide clients regarding export licensing and compliance issues in connection with proposed exports of launch vehicles, payloads, launch services and international customer, vendor and partner collaborations.

Our lawyers work closely with Holland & Knight's International Trade Group to counsel clients on all aspects of export licensing, regulatory matters and embargo issues, including:

  • commodity jurisdiction issues for "space qualified" components
  • technical assistance agreements (TAAs)
  • "dual use" exports under the EAR
  • defense exports under the ITAR
  • commodity classification and commodity jurisdiction requests
  • export compliance programs, training and audits, including due diligence for mergers and acquisitions (M&A)

CFIUS and National Security

Our extensive experience in the space and satellite industry extends to helping a range of businesses – from early-stage startups to Fortune 50 companies – handle complex structuring and regulatory approval processes related to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and obtain facility clearances to perform classified government contracting with defense and intelligence agencies.

We help early-stage U.S. satellite companies successfully navigate CFIUS regulatory requirements as part of Series A and Series B financings with foreign investors, and we represent hardware and software companies providing space-based products and services to commercial and U.S. government customers operating in the national security arena, such as geospatial imagery and data analytics. Our attorneys and policy advisors also assist in developing industrial security programs and advise on resilient positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) policy.

We advise satellite imaging companies on all aspects of industrial security regulatory matters, including export control compliance and foreign investment regulation, and assist in developing security programs to perform classified U.S. government contracts.

Extensive Transactional Experience

Holland & Knight represents clients in the full range of transactions that businesses may encounter, from methodical due diligence to careful documentation. Our attorneys also guide clients through an extensive range of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) matters, including securities filings and corporate governance, structuring and negotiating transactions, and winning deal approvals.

M&A, Private Equity and Fund Formation

With more than 300 M&A attorneys, Holland & Knight represents public and private companies, government contractors, investors, private equity funds and others in small, middle-market and multibillion-dollar transactions.

As a full-service firm, we have the ability to call on attorneys across teams to advise on all aspects of fund formation, from achieving tax-efficient structures and compliance with applicable securities laws to ancillary objectives, such as adviser registration and personal tax planning for fund managers.

We offer an integrated approach that incorporates the extensive knowledge of our securities, tax, corporate and employee benefits lawyers to guide our private investment fund clients through the entire range of legal issues involved in the formation process. We also advise institutional venture capital investors, pension funds, endowments, large companies and high-net-worth individuals investing in funds, as well as funds of funds.


Our attorneys regularly counsel asset owners, lessors, lenders and investors in a range of aircraft, satellite and infrastructure financings. We have deep experience in advising entrepreneurs and companies on advantageous capital structures for their businesses. After evaluating funding opportunities and strategies, we help locate and screen potential investors and work with clients to develop relationships with angel investors, venture capitalists, private equity funds, strategic investors and partners, and others.

Commercial Transactions

Where regulatory approvals and commercial issues overlap, Holland & Knight has led a wide range of transactions. We have particularly deep experience advising on:

  • geosynchronous satellite construction and launch agreements
  • full-capacity satellite acquisitions
  • technology service agreements
  • space launch agreements
  • international communications service provider agreements
  • corporation formations, licensing and distribution agreements
  • acquisitions and lease agreements involving satellite transponders from virtually every major commercial satellite provider
  • space mining

Investigations and Dispute Resolution

Crises and Wrongful Death Litigation

When accidents occur and subsequent litigation arises, Holland & Knight mobilizes its team of dedicated aviation and aerospace litigators to manage investigations and swiftly resolve disputes in or out of court.

Our ability to handle high-profile investigations involving space related crashes and other crises, as well as subsequent wrongful death suits and other complex claims, is enhanced by our global reach and inside knowledge of government enforcement agencies.

Our team includes a former NTSB counsel who was intimately involved in federal accident investigations, including investigations of accidents involving commercial space launches, conducted by the NTSB, DOJ, FAA, USCG and other military departments and the Office of Inspector General (OIG), as well as foreign civil accident investigation authorities. We have the specific experience needed to manage crises on-site and effectively coordinate with federal, state and local authorities, as well as other private companies involved.

We also help clients to comply with applicable regulations and address issues related to public communications and the release of information.

Commercial Litigation

Additionally, our litigation group has extensive experience representing industry clients in contract disputes and other commercial litigation matters, including:

  • representing satellite companies in addressing first-impression questions as to the applicability of Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Article 2A to satellite capacity leases
  • arbitrations regarding failure of a satellite in orbit
  • advising on insurance coverage and liability issues relating to space launch and sale of GPS products
  • serving as lead counsel in international arbitration under bilateral and multilateral investment protection treaties in cases relating to the space sector

Legislative Affairs

Holland & Knight's bipartisan Public Policy & Regulatory Group – consistently recognized among the top federal lobbying firms in Washington, D.C. – advocates on behalf of clients for legislation and policy that advances space exploration and innovation.

Members of our team have held various positions on Capitol Hill, including with the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as with the House Science, Space and Technology Committee overseeing NASA. With deep, longstanding ties on both sides of the aisle, we have been involved in shaping every major piece of space-related legislation in the last 15 years, including the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 and annual updates to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

We serve as policy counsel to several major commercial spaceflight companies and the leading industry association for commercial spaceflight, and have successfully worked to align clients with NASA on major projects.

Our experience in this area includes:

  • space traffic management
  • space situational awareness
  • debris mitigation
  • space-related national security policy, including resilient PNT
  • liability, insurance and indemnification policy
  • property rights in space
  • manufacturing and resource utilization in space

Additionally, Holland & Knight assists clients with gaining support for infrastructure developments, especially with respect to securing prospectus approvals by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and House and Senate committees. With respect to PNT, our team has extensive experience with appropriations language, authorizing language involving the 2018 Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act and FAA reauthorization.

Government Contractors and Emerging Companies

As government contractors and startup companies increasingly enter the satellite and space technology market as new participants, our practice works closely with Holland & Knight's Emerging Companies Team to guide clients throughout the business life cycle.

We couple our deep industry knowledge with our multidisciplinary, cross-border capabilities to advise on:

  • company formation
  • financing and venture capital
  • fund formation
  • licensing agreements
  • vendor contracts
  • transactions
  • intellectual property strategy and protection
  • tax planning
  • labor and employment law
  • regulatory compliance
  • dispute resolution
  • ongoing corporate counsel

We have the business acumen, legal experience, financial relationships and industry-specific knowledge to guide new companies of all types and sizes from startup to maturity.

Representative Engagements

  • Represented ICO Global Communications in the restructuring and transition services arrangements related to its commercial satellite operations
  • Represented a sponsor in the carve-out acquisition of a system engineering and consulting unit of a global security and aerospace company
  • Represented a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite operator in the venture capital financing, licensing and negotiation of gateway agreements
  • Represented the underwriter in an initial public offering in Canada, an equity 144A offering in the U.S., and the multijurisdictional private placement of common shares of a satellite integrator involving the roll-up of two U.S.-based integrators and information technology government contractors
  • Represented a Mexican privately managed fixed satellite service provider in its offering of $325 million in principal amount of new 9.5 percent senior secured notes and its $35 million follow-on offering
  • Represented a leading wireless, internet and satellite communication company in its sale to a global communications company
  • Represented an Australian defense and aerospace company in obtaining Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) clearance for its acquisition of a satellite communications business
  • Represented a British multinational banking and financial services company in a $23 million bridge financing to O3b Networks, a provider of satellite-based internet access to developing countries
  • Advised a multinational bank, an international telecommunications company and equity investors in the $1.2 billion financing of O3b Network's Ka-band satellite network, a transaction named "Africa Telecoms Deal of the Year" by Project Finance International and "ECA-Backed Financing Deal of the Year" by Trade Finance Magazine
  • Represented a large French bank in a $586 million project financing backed by France's Compagnie Française d'Assurance pour le Commerce Extérieur (COFACE) for Globalstar, a provider of satellite voice and data services
  • Represented a major fixed satellite service provider in Latin America in two financial restructurings and its $831 million sale to the world's third-largest satellite operator, which involved the attainment of all required antitrust clearance and regulatory approvals
  • Advised a U.S.-based owner and operator of a global medium-earth-orbit (MEO) satellite infrastructure provider of next-generation wireless services in securing a landing rights authorization leveraging the 2 gigahertz (GHz) frequency band
  • Advised on the sale of a major fixed satellite service provider's business line in Latin America to a satellite operator in Colombia
  • Represented a major fixed satellite service provider in Latin America on all Mexican-related corporate and regulatory matters, including the drafting of satellite procurement agreements
  • Represented an American technology company, defense contractor and information technology services provider in the $425 million sale of a managed satellite communications business to a communications satellite technology company
  • Represented aerospace and defense company HEICO Corp. in its acquisition of Lucix Inc., a manufacturer of space satellite components
  • Represented a major fixed satellite service provider in Latin America in all Mexican-related corporate and regulatory matters, including antitrust matters, corporate and financial restructuring, including a satellite construction agreement to procure its satellites and its $1 billion acquisition by Eutelsat
  • Represented Raytheon Technologies, an aerospace and defense company that provides advanced systems and services for commercial, military and governmental customers worldwide, in its purchase of Blue Canyon Technologies, a leading small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider
  • Represented a South African company in its bid to acquire two active satellites and related global infrastructure and assets             
  • Represented a client in its acquisition of a satellite communications company in a forward-triangular merger transaction involving a stock-for-stock exchange and the subsequent registration of securities issued to shareholders of the target company

  • Representing a client in connection with a commercial space station joint venture
  • Representing a pioneering geospatial intelligence software company on all aspects of national security-related regulatory matters, including classified government contracting, Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and export controls
  • Represented an industry-leading space technology company to obtain CFIUS clearance for a lead investment from a foreign sovereign wealth fund
  • Represented an innovative telecommunications company during the CFIUS clearance process in connection with its sale to a Japanese technology company
  • Represented a multinational telecommunications company based in the Philippines to obtain CFIUS clearance for its acquisition of a cloud management solutions business
  • Represented an Australian defense and aerospace company to obtain CFIUS clearance for acquisition of a satellite communications business
  • Represented a global manufacturer of aerospace platforms in the national security aspects of its potential acquisition of a U.S. company performing classified contracts for the U.S. government
  • Representing U.S. and foreign satellite imaging companies on all aspects of national security and industrial security regulatory matters, including export control compliance, foreign investment regulation, developing industrial security programs to perform classified U.S. government contracts and corporate structuring
  • Representing a satellite navigation company on export control compliance, foreign investment regulation and national security matters
  • Representing multiple hardware and software companies providing space-based products and services to commercial and U.S. government customers operating in the national security arena, including in areas such as geospatial imagery, data analytics and position, navigation and timing
  • Representing a leading SmallSat manufacturer on all aspects of national security and industrial security regulatory matters

  • Prepared and prosecuted applications for new domestic and international services and facilities, including obtaining Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval of market access petitions for communications with non-U.S. space stations
  • Assisted earth station owners and operators with transitioning their operations out of the 3.7-4.0 GHz band and complying with other FCC regulatory mandates
  • Provided consistent counsel to satellite companies on spectrum issues, including offering guidance on ongoing rulemaking proceedings regarding new or amended domestic spectrum allocations
  • Served as FCC counsel to lenders structuring debt transactions involving companies whose principal assets include space station FCC authorizations, including securing remedies after default
  • Obtained FCC authorizations for international and domestic telecommunications systems, including Section 214 authorizations allowing for international connections
  • Counseled companies seeking FCC experimental approvals for testing equipment or services intended to be marketed or otherwise used to communicate with non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite constellations and other space systems
  • Developed and implemented approaches to expedite FCC licensing of authorizations for U.S. and non-U.S. entities seeking FCC uplink and downlink earth station authorizations as well as urgent or temporary FCC authorizations to maintain communications or Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TT&C) links with geostationary orbit (GSO) and NGSO space stations
  • Negotiated satellite transponder agreements with commercial satellite providers on behalf of major television programmers

  • Represented an aerospace manufacturing company through U.S. House and Senate investigations related to its U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) contracting
  • Representing satellite companies in addressing first-impression questions as to the applicability of Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Article 2A to satellite capacity leases
  • Serving as counsel in arbitrations regarding failure of a satellite in orbit
  • Advising on insurance coverage and liability issues relating to space launch and sale of GPS products
  • Serving as lead counsel in international arbitration under bilateral and multilateral investment protection treaties in cases relating to the space sector
  • Representing military and aerospace manufacturing companies in the prosecution of claims relating to an asset purchase agreement and in defense of contract claims in federal court
  • Represented a bank in obtaining summary judgment in a case alleging fraud and unfair and deceptive trade practices related to the finance of satellite equipment
  • Defended the award of a $440 million contract for the operations and maintenance of an Air Force satellite control network against a protest raising multiple challenges to the technical evaluation and allegations of organizational conflicts of interest
  • Advised the audit committee of a large cap New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)-traded aerospace company on its internal investigation of accounting controls, policies and practices
  • Represented the world's third-largest satellite operator in a $235 million investment arbitration dispute against the Mexican government under the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Additional Facility
  • Represented an aerospace and defense company in obtaining the dismissal of lawsuits filed in California and New York state courts stemming from the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) business combination between the company and a private investment firm in the technology sector; the complaints asserted breaches of fiduciary duties and disclosure claims related to the proxy statement filed with the transaction
  • Represented an aerospace company in misappropriation of trade secret and breach of noncompete claims brought against a former employee and obtained an injunction prohibiting the defendants from violating their noncompete agreements or using misappropriated confidential information and trade secrets
  • Represented a client in settling an insurance claim for alleged total loss of a satellite after an International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) arbitration that included strict discovery oversight under ITAR regulations
  • Defended a leading foreign provider of satellite systems against alleged breaches of contract claims stemming from a proposed joint venture to commercialize satellite capacity
  • Represented an international satellite operator in an investment arbitration for violations to a bilateral investment treaty under ICSID rules
  • Obtained summary judgment for a global satellite company in a multimillion-dollar real estate dispute in Hawaii involving disputed access rights and rights of surface and groundwater flow
  • Served as debtor's counsel for the U.S. subsidiary of a non-U.S.-based aerospace manufacturing company in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • Defended U.S., French, English, German and Japanese insurers against arbitration claims ranging from $50 million to $300 million for various satellite and transmission failures
  • Represented an aerospace company in commercial litigation arising from the termination of a contract for satellite components


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