Tag: FAA

House Science Committee Gives Industry What It Wants


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

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

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

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

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

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.

Space Symposium Launch Vehicle Panel


The 31st Space Symposium is taking place all week in Colorado Springs. It’s already generated some news, with ULA unveiling its new launch vehicle [here and here], Paul Allen demanding the company change the rocket’s name, and Rocket Lab showing off its electric motor.

I wasn’t able to attend this year, but I’ve been monitoring the events via Twitter.  Today’s most interesting session appears to have been a launch vehicle panel that included Aerojet Rocketdyne, Arianespace, Blue Origin, Orbital ATK, SpaceX and ULA.

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GAO Conducting Audit of FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation


Capitol Building
A Government Accountability Office audit team is doing a field study on the effectiveness of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST), the head of the Mojave Air and Space Port revealed.

Spaceport CEO Stu Witt reported during a recent board meeting that the team had visited Mojave recently. In addition to meeting with the team, he also provided written responses to its questions.

The audit team will report back on the effectiveness of FAA AST to the House Science Committee.

Space Access Society Update


Space Access Update #139
Copyright 2015 by Space Access Society

In this Issue:

FY’16 Political Season Underway: Early Roundup

House Passes NASA Authorization

Commercial Crew Contracts

FAA AST “Learning Period” Extension

Our Colleagues Have Been Busy

                          Pioneering Space Summit

                          Alliance For Space Development

                          March Storm

         Space Access ’15 Conference April 30 – May 2, 2015 in Phoenix


FY’16 Political Season Underway: Early Roundup

While we’ve been putting together our upcoming Space Access Conference, another DC space political season has been getting underway. It’s time we took a quick look at what’s going on so far. In no particular order… Continue reading ‘Space Access Society Update’

Space Development Alliance Lays Out Ambitious Agenda


The new Alliance for Space Development (ASD) has set out an ambitious agenda for itself, with a set of objectives that include radically reducing the cost of getting to orbit and expanding NASA’s purpose to support the settlement of humanity off the Earth.

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