Tag: FAA

FAA Oversight of Commercial Space Transportation Hearing Video

Comments

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

35 Comments
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.

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

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

71 Comments
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.

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

Tributes Flow in for Patti Grace Smith

Comment

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.

Continue reading ‘Tributes Flow in for Patti Grace Smith’

Patti Grace Smith Has Passed Away

Comment

In her role at FAA, Patti Grace Smith was involved in granting a spaceport license to Mojave Airport and approvals for SpaceShipOne to conduct its test flights in 2003-04. She was a real pioneer in promoting commercial space in the United States.

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’