FAA’s Nield: Space Tourism to Bloom in Next Five Years

MSNBC’s Alan Boyle has a Q&A with George Nield, the Federal Aviation Administration’s associate administrator for commercial space transportation.

“I think within the next three to five years we are going to see multiple companies carrying ticket-buying passengers up to the edge of space, so they can experience the blackness of the sky and see the curvature of the earth and experience the thrill of weightlessness. That’s going to mean hundreds of launches and thousands of people every year who are now going to be able to have that experience of going to space. That’s really going to change how we think about space….

“What that’s going to mean is, after the shuttle retires in 2010, and until we start seeing the human flights of Ares 1 and Orion in 2015 or so, the U.S. government is not going to have any vehicles that they own or operate that carry people into space. But it’s likely to be a very busy time for commercial human spaceflight, both suborbital and orbital. And that means it’s going to be a busy time for the FAA, because those flights are going to be licensed by our office. So we’re going to be right in the thick of that.”