Sen. Martin Heinrich (R-NM) has introduced a measure that would allow experimental permits issued for commercial reusable launch vehicles to remain active after a launch license is issued for the vehicles.
Currently, the experimental permits are no longer valid after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues a launch or re-entry license. This arrangement makes it more difficult for companies to flight test vehicles and make changes in them.
The proposed measure also broadens the definition of what is covered from “suborbital rocket design” to “suborbital rocket or rocket design.”
Heinrich’s bill is similar to the Suborbital and Orbital Advancement and Regulatory Streamlining Act (SOARS) that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) introduced in the House in December.
McCarthy’s measure, which also includes “a demonstration project…to evaluate the benefits of using experimental aircraft for both the direct and indirect support of commercial space launch and reentry activities,” is currently before the House Subcommittee on Space.