Tag: FAA

GAO: Spaceport Operators Confused Over Insurance Requirements

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A Government Accountability Office (GAO) review has found that the nation’s spaceport operators are confused about the insurance they should have for launch accidents.

“Specifically, several spaceport operators GAO interviewed said that, based on their interpretation of the financial responsibility regulations, they were unsure whether their property would be covered under a launch company’s insurance policy or whether they would need to purchase their own insurance for their property to be covered,” the report states.

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GAO Review Recommends FAA Review of Space Support Vehicle Regulations

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F-104's in flight. (Credit: Starfighters Aerospace)

F-104’s in flight. (Credit: Starfighters Aerospace)

A review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conduct a review of its regulations for space support vehicles used to train space tourists and  conduct reduced gravity experiments.

“The Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) should direct the FAA Administrator to fully examine and document whether the FAA’s current regulatory framework is appropriate for space support vehicles and, if not, suggest legislative or regulatory changes, or both, as applicable,” the report states.

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Musk Predicts Falcon 9 Return to Flight in Mid-December

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Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told CNBC on Friday that investigators have found the root cause of the fire and explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 booster on Sept. 1. The company expects to resume launches by the middle of December.

Musk, confirming earlier discussion about the investigation, said the failure involved liquid helium being loaded into bottles made of carbon composite materials within the liquid oxygen tank in the rocket’s upper stage. This created solid oxygen, which Musk previously said could have ignited with the carbon composite materials. However, he did not go into that level of detail in his CNBC comments.
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Second Meeting of the U.S.-China Space Dialogue Conducted

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state_dept_logoWASHINGTON (US State Department PR) — Pursuant to their shared goal of advancing civil space cooperation, as agreed upon in the Strategic Track of the U.S. – China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in June 2015 and reaffirmed in June 2016, the United States and China convened their second Civil Space Dialogue on October 20, 2016, in Washington, DC.

This ongoing Civil Space Dialogue enhances cooperation between the two countries, promotes responsible behavior in space, and encourages greater transparency and openness on a variety of space-related issues.

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Congressional Letter Supports SpaceX Firexplanomaly Investigation

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Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

Twenty-four members of Congress have written a letter to the administrators of NASA and the FAA and the secretary of the U.S. Air Force supporting the SpaceX-led investigation into the loss of one of the company’s Falcon 9 boosters last month.

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ASTM International to Host Organizational Meeting on Potential Commercial Spaceflight Standards

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astm_logoWEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Penn. (ASTM PR) — With support from industry and government leaders, ASTM International will host an organizational meeting to potentially create a new technical committee that develops voluntary consensus standards for commercial spaceflight.

This meeting comes in part as a result of the updated U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 (CSLCA).  The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) is recommending the organization of the new group.

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FAA Officials Stress Need for Liability Law in Georgia

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georgia_state_sealFAA officials were in Georgia this week telling lawmakers the state needs to pass liability laws shielding spaceflight companies from lawsuits from injured passengers and their heirs if it wants to compete with other states.

“In states like Florida and Texas that have a law, that is the statute a federal judge is going to look at,” Dan Murray, a manager with the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, told members of a Georgia House subcommittee exploring a planned commercial spaceport in southeastern Georgia.

The Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation this year aimed at shielding spaceport operators from civil lawsuits stemming from injuries to civilians who participate in a space flight. But the bill died in the Georgia Senate amid concerns expressed primarily by Georgians with second homes on nearby Cumberland Island and Little Cumberland Island worried about the noise from commercial launches and their potential to pose a safety hazard.

Tuesday’s testimony from Murray and the FAA’s Jared Stout made it clear Georgia needs a liability shield law if the proposed Spaceport Camden is to compete with spaceports in Texas and Florida, said Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, the House bill’s chief sponsor and chairman of the subcommittee.

“These states are trying to make themselves competitive by giving some additional layer of [protection from] liability beyond the federal act,” he said.

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Space Foundation Praises FAA Decisions on Virgin Galactic, Moon Express

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space_foundation_logoCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 3, 2016) – The Space Foundation today voiced its strong support for two important commercial space regulatory milestones:

  • On July 29, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (OCST) issued a license to Virgin Galactic for its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane, enabling the company to resume flight tests, from Mojave Air & Space Port, Calif., leading toward commercial suborbital space flights.
  • Today, it was announced that the U.S. Government has cleared the way for California-based Moon Express to send a spacecraft beyond Earth orbit, to land on the moon, in 2017. To date, no commercial company has conducted a mission beyond Earth orbit. This has long been solely the territory of government space programs.

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CSF Congratulates Moon Express on License Announcement

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CSF_logo2WASHINGTON, D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) congratulates Moon Express, Inc., on its U.S. government authorization for a planned robotic mission to the Moon in 2017. This is the first time that a private enterprise has been licensed by the U.S. Government to venture to the lunar surface.

Moon Express first filed the application with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on April 8, 2016. The company then consulted extensively with the FAA, White House, State Department, NASA and other federal agencies before being granted the landmark license. The formal approval sets a precedent for the private sector to engage in peaceful space exploration in accordance with U.S. national obligations of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

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U.S. Government Approves Moon Express Lunar Landing

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Bob Richards, co-founder and CE) of Moon Express Inc., of Moffett Field, California, speaks to the media Nov. 3 at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. To the left of Richards is Greg Chavers, Lander Technologies project manager at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. (Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

Bob Richards, co-founder and CE) of Moon Express Inc., of Moffett Field, California, speaks to the media Nov. 3 at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility. To the left of Richards is Greg Chavers, Lander Technologies project manager at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. (Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Moon Express PR) — For the first time in the history of space travel, a private enterprise will leave this world to explore another

The U.S. Government has made a historic ruling to allow the first private enterprise, Moon Express, Inc. (MoonEx), permission to travel beyond Earth’s orbit and land on the Moon in 2017. This breakthrough U.S. policy decision provides authorization to Moon Express for a maiden flight of its robotic spacecraft onto the Moon’s surface, beginning a new era of ongoing commercial lunar exploration and discovery, unlocking the immense potential of the Moon’s valuable resources.

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Moon Express Receives FAA OK for Lunar Landing

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Moon Express MX-1 spacecraft orbits the Moon in preparation for landing. MX-1 will deliver commercial, academic and government instruments to explore the Moon for science and resources. (Credit: Moon Express)

Moon Express MX-1 spacecraft orbits the Moon in preparation for landing. MX-1 will deliver commercial, academic and government instruments to explore the Moon for science and resources. (Credit: Moon Express)

FAA Fact Sheet
Aug. 3, 2016

On April 8, 2016, Moon Express, Inc. submitted a request to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a Payload Review and Determination on the MX-1E spacecraft. On April 21, 2016, the FAA accepted this application and proceeded with review.

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FAA Oversight of Commercial Space Transportation Hearing Video

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The House Subcommittee on Aviation held its first hearing in seven years on the FAA’s oversight of commercial space last month. Members heard from a heavily industry-centric panel of experts who largely praised the moratorium on regulations that is in place until 2023.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s scathing criticism of the FAA’s oversight role on SpaceShipTwo prior to the accident was briefly discussed on a couple of occasions, as were the potential conflicts between FAA’s dual roles of oversight and promotion.

Taber MacCallum of World View Enterprises dismissed the criticism of FAA Associate Administrator George Nield and the FAA’s performance prior to the crash as Monday morning quarterbacking. He also called for a permanent extension of the moratorium on regulations.

Michael López-Alegría also claimed that the FAA had done its job properly. He dismissed the idea that regulating the industry would make it any safer.

Witness List:

  • Dr. George C. Nield, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration | Written Testimony
  • Dr. Gerald L. Dillingham, Director of Civil Aviation Issues, Government Accountability Office | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Michael Gold, Chair, Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Michael López-Alegría, Vice Chair, Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Taber MacCallum, Chief Technology Officer, World View Enterprises | Written Testimony

 

IG Criticizes NASA’s Decision to Allow SpaceX, Orbital ATK to Conduct Own Accident Investigations

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Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s Inspector General (OIG) has criticized the agency’s practice of allowing SpaceX and Orbital ATK to lead investigations into their own launch failures involving commercial cargo ships, citing a lack of independence and the potential for serious conflicts of interest.

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NASA Investigation into SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Explosion Questions Single Strut Theory

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Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

While SpaceX blames a faulty strut supplied by a contractor for the explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket in June 2015, an independent investigation by NASA Launch Services Program (LSP) concluded there were several “credible causes” for the accident, including poor quality control at Elon Musk’s launch company.

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Tributes Flow in for Patti Grace Smith

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Patti Grace Smith, Champion of Private Space Travel, Dies at 68: The New York Times

In an email, Elon Musk, the PayPal and Tesla entrepreneur who founded SpaceX, a company that has developed launch vehicles, wrote that Ms. Smith had “helped lay the foundations for a new era in American spaceflight.”

“We are closer to becoming a multiplanet species because of her efforts,” he added.

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