WASHINGTON, D.C. (CSF PR) — Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Bill. The Bill provides $17.425 million for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, $2 million for Commercial Space Transportation Safety, and $2 million for Facilities and Equipment to better integrate Commercial Space Traffic with the National Airspace System.
The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) ensures that commercial launch and reentry activities are conducted without additional risk to the public or adjacent property, and that the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States are protected. While the Senate’s THUD Appropriations Bill doesn’t fund all of the requested increase in AST funding, it should ensure that AST can diligently process commercial space licenses and permits in a timely manner, without having to prioritize some applications over others, and thereby potentially delay some launches.
There were nine licensed or permitted Commercial Launches in FY 2015, and five Commercial Reentries. Each launch and reentry requires careful analysis of systems and trajectories, and coordination with air traffic to ensure public safety. Research into improved safety methods, and funding to improve facilities and equipment will streamline some activities and automate others. These are critical improvements as both space and air traffic volume increase. In addition to the FAA AST’s licensing and permit responsibilities, the Office also has oversight support responsibilities related to launch accident investigations.
“CSF applauds the Senate Appropriations Committee, and especially subcommittee leaders Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) for supporting the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation in a time of unprecedented activity,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer. “We also want to especially thank Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) for helping ensure that the FAA has the resources necessary to be a reliable and responsible partner in the economic development of space. CSF looks forward to continuing to work with Senate and House Appropriators to maintain the Senate’s number or even achieve the full budget request as they complete the FY 2016 appropriations process.”