By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor
NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration announced an agreement this morning delineating responsibilities for regulating human missions to the International Space Station. Seeking to avoid overlapping and conflicting regulations, NASA will take responsibility for crew safety while the FAA will license launches to ensure the safety of the general public on the ground.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta held a press conference this morning to discuss the memorandum of understanding. They were joined by NASA Director of Commercial Spaceflight Development Phil McAlister and FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation George Nield.
Notes from the press conference are after the break.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Michael Huerta
- Agreement between FAA and NASA
- Obama Administration recognizes benefits of maintaining U.S. leadership
- better expands cooperation between FAA and NASA
- prevents overlapping standards
- FAA will license all support flights to ISS
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
- MOU – outlines how we’re going to regulate government and non-government crews to the ISS
- expand current collaborative efforts that we have
- want to avoid conflicting requirements and multiple sets of standards
- bring the responsibility for launching crews to the United States
- Obama Administration is committed to facilitating U.S. commercial space transportation
- We’re hoping to foster private sector reliability
- Crew saafety and mission assurance will remain NASA’s responsibility
- Commercial companies will need to obtain launch license from FAA – governs public safety
Q: When will CCiCAP selection be announced?
Bolden: We fully expect to announce those selected by mid-July or so. That’s our hope.
Q: How will licensing be done?
Bolden: Commercial provider will apply to FAA for launch license. Will award the license once FAA is satisfied that public safety is satisfied with public safety for launch and re-entry. Same way the FAA licensed SpaceX Dragon launches.
Q: What about non-NASA missions not going to ISS?
Bolden: In the case of a non-NASA mission, FAA would provide license and NASA would have no involvement.
If this works out as we plan, then private crews will be going to space for purely commercial purposes.
Q: What about spacecraft going to Bigelow and other private stations or a purely commercial mission to ISS?
Bolden: If NASA is paying for the vehicle, then must meet NASA requirements.
Phil McAlister: After 2015, we will see what happens because the limitation on FAA issuing space flight regulations expires.
Q: How would this work for non-crew flights?
George Nield: We already have in place regulations to deal with cargo flights. Dragon flight to station is example.
Q: How will CciCap work?
Bolden: NASA will fund three companies this summer. Two companies will get full funding and the third company will receive half funding. That will go through 21 months. NASA will then put out a request for contracts to provide services under FAR. Any company will be able to bid on it.
NASA would prefer that Congress fully fund the President’s request for commercial crew at $830 million but Congress may come in at less. NASA will ask for significant greater amounts in future years to keep to a 2017 schedule for commercial crew flights.
Q. As more people go into space, will TSA style screenings be required?
Bolden: Don’t anticipate this for missions that NASA is paying for.
FAA officials would not speculate on this matter.