Tag: FAA

Space Development Alliance Lays Out Ambitious Agenda

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earth_from_space
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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Blakey Departs AIA for Rolls Royce

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Marion Blakey

Marion Blakey

ARLINGTON, Va. (AIA PR) —The Aerospace Industries Association announces today that after her successful seven-year tenure as President and Chief Executive Officer, Marion C. Blakey will be leaving to take the position of President and CEO of Rolls Royce North America.

“AIA has been very fortunate to have Marion’s leadership over the last seven years,” said AIA Chairman and President and Chief Executive Officer of GE Aviation, David L. Joyce. “Under Marion’s guidance, AIA has elevated its role advocating in the best interests of the nation and the aerospace and defense industry.”

Beginning in November of 2007, Blakey’s tenure saw the achievement of numerous milestones for the industry. AIA’s advocacy played a key role in changing the classification of commercial satellites in 2014, enabling American manufacturers to better compete in the global market. AIA’s work in support of the Next Generation Air Transportation System has been widely recognized by industry and government.

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Learning Period Extension Could Depend on SpaceShipTwo Investigation Results

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SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

During the FAA’s recent Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, DC, there was a lot of talk about extending the learning period and regulatory “moratorium” on commercial human spaceflight that expires on Sept. 30.

Having failed to fly into space in the decade since the restrictions were put into place, industry naturally wants yet another extension so they can continue learning their lessons. In the meantime, voluntary standards will suffice. The FAA is of another mind, wanting to have the authority to write a basic set of safety standards and to react quickly to situations as they develop.

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Battle Brewing Over Extending Commercial Spaceflight Learning Period

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Part of SpaceShipTwo's fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Part of SpaceShipTwo’s fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A battle is brewing over whether to extend the learning period for the commercial spaceflight industry, with Congress needing to make a decision before October on when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be allowed to regulate an industry still struggling to get off the ground.

On one side are FAA officials, who believe they can begin to craft basic safety regulations based on more than 50 years of human spaceflight experience. Industry figures dispute this, saying they still don’t have enough experience with their varied vehicles to begin the process.

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FAA Seeks Budget Boost for Commercial Space Transportation Office

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faa_logoCiting a sharp increase in workloads, the Federal Aviation Administration has asked Congress for an additional $1.3 million for Fiscal Year 2016 in order to hire an additional 13 full-time employees for the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). Officials say the plan is to eventually hire 25 full-time staffers.

“FY 2014 was a very busy year for commercial space with a total of 19 licensed or permitted launches. That is more than six times the level of activity that we had in 2012, which only had three licensed or permitted launches,” said FAA-AST Associate Administrator George Nield

“We have essentially been relatively flat in terms of resources in recent years,” he added during the FAA’s 18th Commercial Space Transportation Conference last week. “At the same time, we’ve seen that activity level increase by a factor of six. We have been looking at improvements in terms of the different ways to do business to try to stay up with the pace.”

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FAA Moves to Establish Framework for Commercial Lunar Operations

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Artist's conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

Artist’s conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

A recent government review of Bigelow Aerospace’s ambitious plans for settlements on the moon did not result in an endorsement of private property rights and ownership on the Moon.

“I want to make clear that the FAA today has responsibility to license launches and reentry and nothing in between,” said George Nield, who is associate administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the FAA (FAA AST).

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Registration Still Open for 18th FAA Commercial Space Conference in DC

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faa_logo18th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference
Wednesday, February 04, 2015 7:30 AM –
Thursday, February 05, 2015 5:00 PM (Eastern Time)

National Housing Center
1201 15th Street, NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20005
United States

For the latest information and dialogue on U.S. commercial launch activities, commercial human spaceflight, commercial crew, and commercial spaceports, join us in Washington, DC at the National Housing Center for the 18th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference. The conference will take place on February 4th and 5th, 2015, and includes the opportunity to meet and network with key federal officials from DOT, NASA, and DOD, industry leaders, space entrepreneurs, international space partners, legislators, astronauts, educators, and space enthusiasts. This is the premier event for information about the FAA’s role and the future direction of commercial space transportation.

Register Here

Seattle, Mojave Duel to be Silicon Valley of Space

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Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

With last week’s visit of Elon Musk and his announcement of a new facility to design and build a 4,000-satellite constellation, Seattle Weekly is reviving the region’s claim to be the “Silicon Valley of space.”

That might be a bit of a surprise to Silicon Valley, the home of some cool space start-ups and the source (via Google) of a lot of Musk’s satellite money.

The moniker is also probably surprising to some folks in Mojave, which also has staked its claim to that title from time to time. Valley Public Radio talks to Mojave Air and Space Port CEO/General Manager Stu Witt and Leonard David of Space.com about Mojave, commercial space and the loss of SpaceShipTwo.

Is Kern County The Next Frontier For Aerospace Innovation?

It’s a bit of a disappointing discussion. Both Leonard and Stu appear more afraid of the government coming in with regulations than they are of Scaled continuing to kill people on this program. Ten years, four deaths and one wrecked spaceship later, and this program hasn’t come anywhere near space.

That’s not exactly a shining example of NewSpace competency. And shouldn’t that raise some basic questions about Scaled, its design and safety protocols, and Virgin Galactic’s rush to move forward?

And, as the FAA’s George Nield has pointed out, these guys aren’t exactly the Wright brothers. They’re not inventing a new mode of transportation from whole cloth. People have been flying into space for more than 50 years. There’s a lot of good, proven safety practices out there. Without some mandatory regulations, Nield fears that some irresponsible operator will ruin it for everyone in the industry.

That’s the argument, anyway. Whether you agree with it or not, it would have been nice if it had come up in the discussion. I guarantee you it will be a point of contention at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference next month.

Year in Review: A Look at Virgin Galactic Developments in 2014

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WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Continuing our look back at 2014, we review progress at Virgin Galactic. While the loss of SpaceShipTwo on Oct. 31 understandably dominated the headlines, there were a number of other newsworthy developments at the company last year.

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Draft Environmental Report Backs SpaceX Landing Facility at Cape Canaveral

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Proposed SpaceX landing facility (Credit: Gator Engineering & Aquifer Restoration, Inc.)

Proposed SpaceX landing facility (Credit: Gator Engineering & Aquifer Restoration, Inc.)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A draft environmental assessment supports a plan to land SpaceX Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy first stages at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), subject to efforts to mitigate adverse impacts on wildlife.

The proposed location is Launch Complex 13 (LC-13), which was used to launch Atlas rockets from 1958 to 1978. The U.S. Air Force has since demolished the blockhouse, mobile launch tower and associated infrastructure.

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