NTSB Asks Congress for Authority to Investigate Commercial Space Accidents

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WSJ: NTSB Seeks Authority To Probe Commercial Space Accidents
Wall Street Journal

The National Transportation Safety Board, which currently probes plane, train, ship and highway crashes, wants to expand its purview to cover the final frontier: investigating commercial spacecraft mishaps and accidents.

This week, the safety board for the first time asked Congress to explicitly give it primary investigative authority over accidents involving commercial space vehicles. As part of the request submitted to the House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation, Deborah Hersman, the board’s chairman, also reiterated that lawmakers should clarify that the board is authorized to investigate incidents involving civilian unmanned aircraft….

But to avoid the prospect of signing separate agreements with each company or commercial entity that might launch humans into space, the board wants Congress, from the beginning, to designate it as the lead agency responsible for accident investigations in this arena.

Under the board’s request, the FAA would retain existing authority to regulate space tourism operators, establish minimum crew standards and ensure that passengers are advised about the risks associated with such flights.

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