Tag: FAA

Ellington Airport Becomes 10th FAA Licensed Spaceport

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Artist's rendition of Ellington Spaceport includes two Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo combinations, Orbital ATK's Stargazer air-launch plane, and a futuristic looking point-to-point aircraft. (Credit: Houston Airport System)

Artist’s rendition of Ellington Spaceport includes two Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo combinations, Orbital ATK’s Stargazer air-launch plane, and a futuristic looking point-to-point aircraft. (Credit: Houston Airport System)

HOUSTON, June 30, 2015 (HAS PR) — The Houston Airport System (HAS) has been granted a Launch Site License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that enables Ellington Airport (EFD) to establish itself as a launch site for Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV), making it the 10th commercial spaceport in the United States.

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Satellite Applications Catapult Signs MOU for Houston Spaceport

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EllingtonAirportHoustonHARWELL, England (Satellite Applications Catapult PR) — The Satellite Applications Catapult signed a Memorandum of Understanding today with the City of Houston Airport System and the Houston Spaceport to become the first international partner for the city’s commercial spaceport. The MOU states a partnership between the two organisations and the intention to work together in the future.

The announcement was made today as part of a public event where Houston Mayor Annise Parker also announced the creation of a new commercial spaceport in Houston. Representatives from the UK Satellite Applications Catapult, the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA Johnson Space Center, and the Rice Space Institute were all present during the event.

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FAA, CNES Sign Agreement on Commercial Space Launch R&D

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faa_logoPARIS (FAA PR) – U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael P. Huerta and French National Space Agency (CNES) President Jean-Yves Le Gall have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) to cooperate on research and development related to the safety of private sector orbital space launches and re-entry activities.  The research-related, non-binding arrangement between France and the United States is the first of its kind covering research into commercial orbital space operations.

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Amendment Partially Restores Funding Increase Requested for FAA Commercial Space Office

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Capitol Building
The House has approved an amendment that would partially restore a requested funding increase for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). The amendment offered by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) would add $250,000 to the office’s budget.

Citing a sharp increase in workloads, the Obama Administration had asked Congress for an additional $1.5 million for Fiscal Year 2016 in order to hire an additional 13 full-time employees for FAA AST. Officials say the plan is to eventually hire 25 full-time staffers.

“FY 2014 was a very busy year for commercial space with a total of 19 licensed or permitted launches. That is more than six times the level of activity that we had in 2012, which only had three licensed or permitted launches,” said FAA-AST Associate Administrator George Nield during the FAA’s 18th Commercial Space Transportation Conference in February.

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House Science Committee Gives Industry What It Wants

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Capitol Building
The commercial space industry had a great day on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with the Republican-controlled House Science Committee giving it most of what it wanted while swatting away proposed changes from the minority Democrats.

Among the goodies approved by the committee: a decade-long extension of the moratorium on regulating commercial human spaceflight;  a nine-year extension of industry-government cost sharing for damages caused by launch accidents; and an act that would give companies property rights to materials they mine from asteroids.

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Cruz: Senate Commercial Launch Bill Ensures Strong Space Sector

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Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Senate Science Committee PR) – Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz (R-Texas) released the following statement regarding S. 1297, the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, that he filed with U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) that extends the International Space Station (ISS) until 2024, extends the regulatory moratorium through FY 2020, and ensures stability for the continued development and growth of the U.S. commercial space sector, among other initiatives.

“We are making a commitment to supporting the continued development of a strong commercial space sector with this bill,” said Sen. Cruz. “The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act provides the International Space Station nearly a decade of certainty by authorizing operations through 2024 and encourages dynamic private sector growth by giving industry the time it needs to foster and develop new technology.”

“We need to make it less cumbersome to launch from Florida’s Space Coast so private companies won’t take their business elsewhere,” said Sen. Nelson. “We need the jobs that come with commercial space ventures.”

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House Measure Would Extend Commercial Spaceflight Learning Period by 8 Years

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Rep. Kevin McCarthy

The House Science Committee is set to mark up legislation on Wednesday introduced by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) that would extend the commercial spaceflight learning period for another eight years while requiring a series of progress reports on safety from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The proposed extension to the end of 2023 is three years longer than one in a measure introduced in the Senate. The FAA’s Office of Commercial Spaceflight (FAA AST) wants the moratorium on regulating the industry to expire as scheduled at the end of September.

McCarthy’s Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 (or SPACE Act of 2015) also contains several other key provisions, including the extension of launch liability indemnification cost sharing provisions and a rule change that would allow companies to hold experimental permits and launch licenses simultaneously.

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Rubio Proposes Change to FAA Commercial Space Permitting & Licensing

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Sen. Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has introduced legislation that would allow companies developing and operating commercial reusable launch vehicles to hold launch licenses and experimental permits simultaneously.

Under current law, a company must give up its FAA-issued experimental permit for a vehicle once it obtains a launch license. Industry officials say this provision prevents them from testing improvements and repairs to existing vehicles as well conducting flight tests on new spacecraft that come off the assembly line.

“The Secretary may issue a permit under this section notwithstanding any license issued under this chapter,” the legislation states. “The issuance of a license under this chapter may not invalidate a permit under this section.”

Rubio introduced Senate Bill 592 in late February. The measure has been read twice and referred to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Cruz Puts Forth Measure to Extend Commercial Spaceflight Learning Period

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Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Against the wishes of federal regulators, the commercial spaceflight industry would get another five years to learn lessons — and, hopefully, actually fly someone into space — under a bill being sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

That’s the word from SpaceNews, which says it has obtained a draft of the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act set for markup on May 20 by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. The measure would extend restrictions on the Federal Aviation Administration’s authority to regulate the still nascent industry until 2020.

The limits were first put in place in 2004, then extended for three years in 2012. They are due to expire on Sept. 30.

George Nield, who heads up the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, said six months before the fatal SpaceShipTwo crash last year that he wants the quasi-moratorium to end in September. He said that there are safety regulations that can be formulated based on 50 years of human spaceflight. He added that without some basic regulations, irresponsible companies with poor safety practices can enter the industry.

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News Briefs: CRS2 Delayed, Accident Updates, Blue Origin & Dream Chaser Flights

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SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Several agencies gave presentations yesterday before the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. Jeff Foust of SpaceNews reported on the following updates:

  • NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier said the agency has delayed a decision on its Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contracts from June to September to allow more time to evaluate bids. Known bidders include SpaceX, Orbital ATK, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Sierra Nevada Corporation.
  • Gerstenmaier said Sierra Nevada’s final funded commercial crew milestone — a second drop test of the Dream Chaser shuttle — is now scheduled for December.
  • FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) George Nield reported that Blue Origin will be flying its suborbital New Shepard spacecraft within weeks.
  • Nield said the NTSB will be providing FAA AST with a report on the SpaceShipTwo accident within a month or two. He expects a final report to be published sometime in the summer.
  • Nield said he expects an accident report from Orbital ATK on last October’s Antares failure within the next several weeks.