Tag: FAA

FAA AST Budget: A Million Here, A Million There

Comments

faa_logoUPDATE: The commmitttee approved an amendment bringing the budget up to $19.826, which is what the Administration requested.

The House Appropriations Committee has recommended $18.826 million for the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) for FY 2017, which is $1 million below the Obama Administration’s budget request.

The amount is $1 million above the enacted level for FY 2016.

“The recommended funding level will allow the Office of Commercial Space Transportation to add operational personnel to support an increased level of activity in its licensing, permitting and safety inspection functions,” the committee said in draft bill to be marked up on Tuesday.

Continue reading ‘FAA AST Budget: A Million Here, A Million There’

Space Renaissance Act Calls for Major Changes in Commercial Policies

Comments

Earth_from_space_graphic

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) proposed American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA) would bring about significant changes in the nation’s commercial space policy, with a much larger role for the Department of Transportation and a revamping of activities within the Commerce Department.

Continue reading ‘Space Renaissance Act Calls for Major Changes in Commercial Policies’

COMSTAC Recommends Against Lifting Ban on Commercial ICBM Use

Comments
A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (Credit: NASA/Chris Perry)

A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (Credit: NASA/Chris Perry)

The FAA Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) voted last week to recommend that the U.S. government maintain its ban on the use of excess ICBM motors for launching commercial satellites. The recommendation to the FAA is a non-binding one.

Continue reading ‘COMSTAC Recommends Against Lifting Ban on Commercial ICBM Use’

Study Finds FAA Could Take Over Space Situational Awareness from Air Force

Comment
In addition to active satellites, a large number of items of debris that originated from collisions, decommissioned satellites or the spent upper stages of launch vehicles are currently in Earth orbit. Credit: ESA.

In addition to active satellites, a large number of items of debris that originated from collisions, decommissioned satellites or the spent upper stages of launch vehicles are currently in Earth orbit. Credit: ESA.

A Department of Transportation (DOT) review has found that it would be possible for it to take over responsibility for space situational awareness from the U.S. Air Force.

Continue reading ‘Study Finds FAA Could Take Over Space Situational Awareness from Air Force’

OSTP Recommends Giving Mission Approval Authority for FAA

Comments
georgenieldphoto1

George Nield

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has recommended to Congress that the Secretary of Transportation be given the power to provide mission authorizations for such non-traditional space activities as asteroid mining and private space stations, a FAA official revealed last week.

George Nield, FAA associate administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, said an authorization would stipulate that a mission is in compliance with U.S. space policy, foreign and national security considerations, and international treaty obligations.

Nield made his remarks last week during a meeting of FAA AST’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC).

Continue reading ‘OSTP Recommends Giving Mission Approval Authority for FAA’

Senate Science Committee Approves Space Weather Bill

Comments
On June 20, 2013, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft captured this coronal mass ejection (CME). A solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one to three days later. (Credit NASA)

On June 20, 2013, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft captured this coronal mass ejection (CME). A solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one to three days later. (Credit NASA)

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has approved a slightly modified version of the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act, which will fund work on protecting the nation from the effects of solar flares and coronal mass ejections that could fry our energy grid.

Continue reading ‘Senate Science Committee Approves Space Weather Bill’

Bridenstine’s Bill Would Radically Restructure NASA

13 Comments

NASA LOGOBy Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA would be given a mandate to pioneer the development and settlement of space and a commission dominated by Congressional appointees to oversee those efforts under a bill proposed by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).

The measure’s basic premise is that NASA’s problems stem from unstable presidential commitments to space exploration as opposed to Congress’ tendency to support expensive programs that bring funding into particular states and districts.

“Over the past twenty years, 27 NASA programs have been cancelled at a cost of over $20 billion to the taxpayer,” according to a statement on a website devoted to the measure. “Many of these have come as a result of changes in presidential administrations.

Continue reading ‘Bridenstine’s Bill Would Radically Restructure NASA’

FAA Backs Ban on U.S. Satellite Launches on Indian Rockets

Comments
PSLV rocket lifts off with India's Mars Orbiter Mission. (Credit: ISRO)

PSLV rocket lifts off with India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. (Credit: ISRO)

Space News reports on disagreements within the U.S. government about whether to allow American companies to launch satellites aboard Indian rockets.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) endorsed an advisory committee’s recommendation that commercial U.S. satellites continue to be barred from using the PSLV.

Continue reading ‘FAA Backs Ban on U.S. Satellite Launches on Indian Rockets’

So Exactly How Safe Will SpaceShipTwo Be?

16 Comments
Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic's Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Part 5 of 6

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the recent roll out of VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic marked a symbolic milestone in its recovery from the October 2014 accident that destroyed the first SpaceShipTwo and killed pilot Mike Alsbury.

Two questions loomed large over the celebrity-studded event. When will it fly? And how safe will it be when it does?

Company officials gave no timeline on the first question. Their answers about SpaceShipTwo’s safety differed significantly from previous claims they made over the last 11.5 years.

Continue reading ‘So Exactly How Safe Will SpaceShipTwo Be?’

Commercial Human Spaceflight Industry Lightly Regulated

Comment

faa_logoPart 4 of 6

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

U.S. regulations for commercial human spaceflight give the wide latitude to develop and fly their launch systems while providing substantial protections about being sued for injuries and deaths resulting from accidents. What follows is is a brief summary of the provisions, most of which have been in place since December 2004.
Continue reading ‘Commercial Human Spaceflight Industry Lightly Regulated’

Early Aviation & the Safety of Space Tourism

Comments
Crashed Boeing Model 299 at Wright Field, Ohio in 1934.

Crashed Boeing Model 299 at Wright Field, Ohio in 1934.

Part 2 of 6

“I question whether our insatiable appetite for total safety is serving the needs of the exploring human inside us.”

– Stu Witt, former CEO & General Manager, Mojave Air & Space Port

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

After he won the $10 million Ansari X Prize with SpaceShipOne in October 2004, Scaled Composites Founder Burt Rutan had two goals for the SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism vehicle he was building for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

He vowed the vehicle would be at least 100 times safer than any human spacecraft that had ever flow. And the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would certify the spaceship in a manner similar to way the agency certifies aircraft.

Continue reading ‘Early Aviation & the Safety of Space Tourism’

A Closer Look at Early Aviation Safety & Regulation

Comments
 Air Crash West of Visalia, Calif., 1920s (Credit: Tulare County Library)

An air crash west of Visalia, Calif., 1920s (Credit: Tulare County Library)

Part 1 of 6

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The coming age of commercial human spaceflight has often been compared to the freewheeling days of early aviation when brave men and women took to the skies in their flying machines and the government stayed out of the way, allowing brilliant designers to take risks and experiment with new designs.

Continue reading ‘A Closer Look at Early Aviation Safety & Regulation’

Updated Status of NTSB Recommendations to FAA AST

Comments
SpaceShipTwo's right boom. (Credit: NTSB)

SpaceShipTwo’s right boom. (Credit: NTSB)

Here is  the current status of the 10 recommendations the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made as part of its investigation of the SpaceShipTwo crash in October 2014.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) submitted responses to eight recommendations in October. The NTSB responded to the FAA’s responses in January. The safety board found FAA’s responses to seven of the recommendations to be acceptable. albeit it has serious concerns on one of them. NTSB found one of FAA’s responses unacceptable.

The NTSB made two recommendations to the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. The safety board’s website says CSF has not responded to the recommendations yet.

Continue reading ‘Updated Status of NTSB Recommendations to FAA AST’

NTSB, FAA Spar Over Scope of License & Permit Evaluations

Comments

ntsb_logoBy Douglas Messsier
Managing Editor

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is concerned that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) might not be sufficiently addressing weaknesses in how it evaluates experimental permit and license applications submitted by commercial space companies.

The concerns involve the FAA’s response to one of eight recommendations the NTSB made in its final report on the crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo in October 2014. NTSB investigators found shortcomings in the FAA’s evaluation and issuance of the experimental permit and a waiver under which flight tests of Sir Richard Branson’s suborbital space tourism vehicle were conducted.

Continue reading ‘NTSB, FAA Spar Over Scope of License & Permit Evaluations’

FAA AST Rejects NTSB Safety Inspection Recommendation

31 Comments
SpaceShipTwo's right boom. (Credit: NTSB)

SpaceShipTwo’s right boom. (Credit: NTSB)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) has rejected a recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on how to improve the safety inspection process for commercial space systems.

Continue reading ‘FAA AST Rejects NTSB Safety Inspection Recommendation’