Tag: FAA

AIA: President’s Budget Request Not Adequate to Meet Pressing National Needs

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aialogosmARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — AIA believes that the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget request does not provide the funding we need to ensure safe air transportation, make America more secure, promote space exploration, and ensure a vibrant and innovative industrial base. If this budget is adopted, we will fail to address the serious mismatch between our resources and the new threats and challenges our nation faces today.

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FAA AST Gets Increase in Proposed Budget

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faa_logoThe Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) proposed FY 2017 budget includes a $2 million in spending for the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) and a nearly $1 million boost in expenditures for commercial space safety research.

The $19.8 million budget would allow the office to increase its staff to 119 full-time permanent positions in order to deal with a growing workload of permits, licenses, inspections and other responsibilities.
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FAA Releases Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation

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faa_compendium_2016The Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation: 2016

Executive Summary

The size of the global space industry, which combines satellite services and ground equipment, government space budgets, and global navigation satellite services (GNSS) equipment, is estimated to be about $324 billion. At $95 billion in revenues, or about 29 percent, satellite television represents the largest segment of activity. Following this is government space budgets at $76 billion, or 24 percent, and services enabled by GNSS represent, about $76 billion in revenues. Commercial satellite remote sensing companies generated on $1.6 billion in revenues, but the value added services enabled by these companies is believed to be magnitudes larger. Because remote sensing value added services includes imagery and data analytics from other sources beyond space-based platforms, only the satellite remote sensing component is included in the global space industry total.

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Character, Candor & Competence: Lessons From the SpaceShipTwo Crash

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SpaceShipTwo right boom wreckage. (Credit: NTSB)

SpaceShipTwo right boom wreckage. (Credit: NTSB)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

One of the most interesting aspects of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into the SpaceShipTwo crash was how it pulled back the curtain on what was actually going on in the program being undertaken in Mojave. Over the years, the rhetoric has been frequently at odds with reality.

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Kona International Airport Moves Forward on Spaceport Application

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The Big Island of Hawaii

The Big Island of Hawaii

Kona International Airport on the island of Hawaii is nearing the completion of an environmental assessment required for its application for a spaceport license.

If the environmental assessment comes back and the results are FONSI — findings of no significant impact —the next step is 30 days of public meetings in Kailua-Kona.

The state has already received several drafts from the Federal Aviation Administration and are just awaiting the final document.

Read the full story.

FAA AST Responds to NTSB Recommendations in SpaceShipTwo Accident Report

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SpaceShipTwo's right boom. (Credit: NTSB)

SpaceShipTwo’s right boom. (Credit: NTSB)

The Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) has submitted formal responses to the eight recommendations the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made in its report on the loss of SpaceShipTwo in October 2014.

All the responses are dated Oct. 30, 2015 — one day short of the one year anniversary of the crash. The responses are all identified as being from FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta.

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SpaceX Eyes Land Touchdown for Falcon 9 Booster

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Credit: SpaceX)

Credit: SpaceX

Some news about SpaceX’s return to flight later this month:

SpaceX may try to make history with its next launch later this month, returning its rocket to a landing pad rather than an ocean-based platform, a NASA official said today (Dec. 1).

Carol Scott, who works technical integration for SpaceX within NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, told reporters here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station today that SpaceX’s first attempt at a land-based rocket landing may be coming sooner than the public expects.

“You know how they want to fly the stage back, right? Their plan is to land it out here on the Cape [Canaveral] side,” Scott told reporters.

The company has converted a former launch complex on Cape Canaveral into a landing pad for the first stage of its Falcon 9 booster. SpaceX has previously used a floating barge for landing attempts.

The FAA and U.S. Air Force would need to grant permission for any landing attempt back at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

SpaceX has declined comment on the report.

Shock, Tears & Spin: The Aftermath of the SpaceShipTwo Crash

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SpaceShipTwo's right boom. (Credit: NTSB)

SpaceShipTwo’s right boom. (Credit: NTSB)

Part 5 in a Series

In his autobiography, Chuck Yeager dismissed Tom Wolfe’s “right stuff” as a meaningless phrase for describing a pilot’s attributes. Good pilots are not born, they are made. Yeager attributed his success to a combination of natural abilities (good coordination, excellent eyesight, intuitive understanding of machinery, coolness under pressure) and good old-fashioned hard work. He worked his tail off learning how to fly, learned everything he could about the aircraft he flew, and spent more time flying them than anyone else.

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SpaceShipTwo Pilots Faced Extremely High Work Loads

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Pre-sunrise checks on WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the runway at the Mojave Air and Spaceport. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Pre-sunrise checks on WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the runway at the Mojave Air and Spaceport before powered flight 3. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Part 2 in a Series

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Mojave Air and Spaceport sits on 3,300 acres of California’s High Desert about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. Since it opened in 1935, the facility had seen multiple uses – rural airfield for the mining industry, World War II Marines Corps training base, U.S. Navy air station and general aviation airport.

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FAA Plans Spaceport Camden Environmental Impact Statement, Public Meeting

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faa_logoCamden Spaceport Environmental Impact Statement
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for analyzing the environmental impacts of a proposed commercial space launch site (known as Spaceport Camden) in Camden County, Georgia. The Camden County, Georgia Board of Commissioners (the County) proposes to develop a launch site for the integration, test, and launch of vertical launch vehicles. Under the Proposed Action analyzed in the EIS, the County would construct and operate Spaceport Camden, a commercial space launch site consisting of a vertical launch site, a landing zone, a control center complex, and another facility that would include provisions for visitors and viewing launches. The County plans to offer the site for up to 12 vertical launches and up to 12 landings of associated launch vehicle first-stages per year. Other activities considered under the Proposed Action include recovering spent stages at sea that may be barged back to the site for rehabilitation and reuse; 12 static fire engine tests; and up to 12 wet dress rehearsals per year.

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SpaceShipTwo’s PF-04: A High-Risk Flight

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Mike Alsbury

Mike Alsbury

Part 1 in a Series

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Mike Alsbury’s day began with a 3 a.m. wake up at his home in Tehachapi, Calif. He showered, dressed and ate a breakfast that likely consisted of an apple and a granola bar.

Alsbury rarely awoke at so early; but this Oct. 31 was a flight test day. That meant a lot of people were getting up early for the latest milestone in the Tier 1B program. At least that’s what they called it at Alsbury’s employer, Scaled Composites. The rest of the world knew it as WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo – the foundation of Sir Richard Branson’s suborbital space tourism program. Scaled built and tested the vehicles for the British billionaire’s spaceline, Virgin Galactic.

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Spaceport Colorado Prepares to Submit Application to FAA

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Front_Range_AirportWATKINS, Colo. (Spaceport Colorado PR) — Adams County, Front Range Airport–Spaceport Colorado, is in the final stages of the Spaceport License submission process. The Spaceport Colorado team is completing its final review of the License Application and Environmental Assessment documents and expects to submit both final documents to the FAA Office of Commercial Space (AST) later this month.

Spaceport Colorado is also working closely with the local and regional offices of the FAA Air Traffic Control Organization to establish an effective Letter of Agreement (LOA) for spacecraft horizontal launch operations at the Spaceport. This process has been challenging due to the proximity of Denver International Airport but the team also expects to have the draft LOA approved by ATC and ready for submission to AST later this month.

Submission this month will mean that Spaceport Colorado could receive its license and be open for business as early as the second quarter of 2016. Spaceport Colorado will provide access to space for the hundreds of aerospace and commercial space companies and research institutions that call Colorado’s Front Range home.

ISPCS Day One Review & a Mojave Engine Test

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Credit: Robin Snelson

Credit: Robin Snelson

Greetings from Mojave.  I had hoped to be greeting you from Las Cruces from the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS — pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Is-pic-us). But, my plans to leave one desert town to travel across vast stretches of desert to a larger desert town didn’t work out this year. (I don’t know why; it sounded like so much fun.)

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Mojave Journal: The Ansari X Prize’s Awkward Family Reunion

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Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary panel discussion on Oct. 4, 2014.

Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary panel discussion on Oct. 4, 2014.

One Year Ago, the Ansari X Prize Turned 10
It Was an Uncomfortable Birthday

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The planes kept coming and coming. One after another, they swooped out of a blue desert sky and touched down on the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port. By mid-morning there were at least a dozen private jets stretched along the flight line running east from the Voyager restaurant toward the control tower. And even more were on their way.

And to what did Mojave owe this ostentatious display of wealth by the 1 percenters? They had come to the sun-splashed spaceport last Oct. 4 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ansari X Prize. A decade earlier, Burt Rutan and his Paul Allen-funded team had won $10 million for sending the first privately-built manned vehicle into space twice within a two-week period.

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House Passes Measure Extending Commercial Space Learning Period

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Capitol Building
UPDATE: The Senate passed the measure, so Congress has six more months to do the work it failed to do over the past 12 months. Legislators also appear ready to pass a continuing resolution that will keep the government function at FY 2015 spending levels until they get around to passing a budget. So, shutdown averted, moratorium extended, and Congress remains as dysfunctional as ever. 

Remember when you were back in high school, and you had this term paper due, and you’d procrastinate and put it off and come up with every excuse to do anything but work on it? And then it would time to turn it in, and you’d go and beg your teacher for an extension because…well, you needed one and you were a good student and stuff?

Well, Congress is a lot like high school. (If you have any doubts, just spend a few hours watching floor debates on C-SPAN.) Each year at this time, our esteemed legislators are literally hours away from the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 and haven’t done much of anything all year. Spending bills are not reconciled, and unless they do something quick, the government will shut down and all sorts of regulations and other things will expire at midnight.

Congress being both weak and divided and mighty and powerful, it’s capable of giving itself an extension for its own dysfunction. Legislators are working on continuing resolution, which will fund the government temporarily until the parties gets around to resolving its differences — and extending all sorts of various authorities.

One of them will extend the learning period on commercial human spaceflight for six months, until March 30. The extension is part of a package of FAA-related items in a bill passed by the House of Representatives today.

The extra time will allow legislators to reconcile whether they want to severely limit the FAA’s regulatory authority over the industry for another five years (as the Senate wants) or 10 years (as the House measure does).

That’s assuming the Senate gets around to passing the measure by the end of September. Even if the authority lapses, FAA officials have said they have no immediately plans to begin regulating the industry.