New Export Rules Will Be Looser, More Complicated


Capitol Building
The good news is that the U.S. government is about to loosen the restrictive export rules governing satellites and components that have been blamed for destroying America’s dominance in the satellite market over the past 15 years.

The bad news is that the rules are about to get a lot more complicated to interpret. And, for those who fail to interpret them properly, a jail cell could be in their future.

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Virgin Galactic’s Ban on Selling Tickets to Chinese Citizens

SpaceShipTwo ignites its engines on the third powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo ignites its engine above Koehn Lake on its third powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

It was a great story while it lasted, one full of spies, technological espionage, Cold War-style fears, and super power rivalry. And then the story turned into something far stranger.

The news broke two weeks ago that Virgin Galactic is turning away would-be space tourists from China. The reason: strict U.S. export restrictions known as ITAR that are designed to prevent the transfer of sensitive technologies to hostile foreign nations. Visions of Chinese spies signing up for flights and stealing the secrets to this new technology filled numerous news stories in the week that followed.

There was only one problem: the story appears to be only half true.

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Stu Witt’s Prepared Remarks to Congress on Commercial Space


Stu_wittPrepared Statement of Stuart O. Witt
CEO and General Manager
Mojave Air and Space Port
Hearing on “Commercial Space”
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Subcommittee on Space Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
U.S. House of Representatives

Chairman Palazzo, Ranking Member Edwards, Chairman Smith, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to address the subcommittee this morning. My name is Stuart Witt, and I am the CEO and General Manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port, which is located in southeast Kern County, California.

Many of my tenants call Mojave the Silicon Valley of Commercial Spaceflight. I’m just proud to lead the nation’s only private experimental flight test center, a place where Innovation Takes Flight.

Our topic today is America’s commercial space industry, and my message to you from the high desert is that American engineers and entrepreneurs in Mojave and other places across the country are successfully revolutionizing America’s future in space. This is a 100% good news story. What my Mojave tenants require from elected representatives in Washington is continued permission, and modest encouragement, rather than obstacles.

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Witt to Congress: Extend Learning Period, Revise ITAR and Make Indemnification Permanent

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Space on Wednesday, Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt urged legislators to extend the “learning period” for new space systems to eight years, remove suborbital tourism vehicles from the ITAR list, and to make permanent the risk-sharing launch indemnification in which the government covers damages from private space missions above a certain level.

“This industry needs regulatory certainty,” Witt said in his prepared remarks. “But the learning period restriction on unsubstantiated safety regulations expires in less than two years and the risk-sharing (indemnification) regime expires at the end of next month. That regulatory uncertainty is difficult for many companies. I ask Congress to make Indemnification permanent, and also extend the Learning Period to a full eight years of R&D and operational flights to provide regulatory certainty to firms developing passenger carrying vehicles.”

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ISPCS Panel Discussion on IP, Export Controls and Insurance


ispcs_logoHot Topics:
Intellectual Property, Export Controls & Insurance

Chair: Franceska Schroeder, Principal, Fish & Richardson, P.C., Washington, DC Office


  • Grant Anderson, Senior Vice President and Chief Engineer, Paragon Space Development Corporation
  • James W. Babineau, Principal, Fish & Richardson P.C., Austin Office – Intellectual Property
  • Christopher T.W. Kunstadter, Senior Vice President Aerospace Insurance, XL Group


Now on the stage: panel discussion on export control and intellectual property protection related to the commercial space industry. (ISPCS ‏@ISPCS)

Now up at #ISPCS, additional duscussion on risks and insurance. Moderator @FOSchroeder (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl)

Chris Kunstadter, XL Insurance on “Hot Topics” panel: lot of capital in space insurance market right now, pushing down rates. (Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust)

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AIA Praises Export Reform Measure, Calls for End to Shutdown


aialogosmARLINGTON, Virg. (AIA PR) – Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion C. Blakey calls on Congress and the administration to end the shutdown and allow exporters to take advantage of export control reforms in support of U.S. national security and economic prosperity as soon as possible.

The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) welcomes today’s enactment of the first set of revisions to the U.S. Munitions List (USML) that are removing onerous controls on exports of essentially commercial technology used in military aircraft (Category VIII) and military aircraft engines (Category XIX).  Subjecting these technologies to the export control requirements of the Commerce Control List (CCL) will allow for more appropriate reviews and restrictions while making trade with America’s closest military allies and partners more predictable, efficient and transparent.

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Video: XCOR’s Andrew Nelson on Restrictive Export Rules


Wall Street Journal Opinion: Will Bureaucrats Ground Private Space Before It Launches?

XCOR Aerospace COO Andrew Nelson on the threat potential suborbital space regulations pose to America’s burgeoning space industry.

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FSDC Joins Effort to Keep Spaceflight Vehicles Off Munitions List


nss_logoRockledge, Fla., June 14, 2013 (FSDC PR) — The Florida Space Development Council (FSDC), a chapter of the National Space Society, has written to the U.S. Department of State to voice opposition to proposed export-control rulemaking that would add commercial human spaceflight vehicles to a Department of Defense “munitions list” and thereby place onerous restrictions on their export from the U.S.

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An Urgent Plea for Help in Keeping Crewed Spaceships Off the U.S. Munitions List


DOD_logoBy Andrew Nelson
Chief Operating Officer,
XCOR Aerospace

Just a quick note while I have a moment to stop and reflect in the thick of NSRC 2013. Specifically, I want to address some new rules being proposed by the US State Department on export controls for manned suborbital space vehicles designed for commercial spaceflight.

At the end of May, the Department of State published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (or NPRM) Rule 78 FR 31 444 (pdf)– that did a great thing. The DoS proposed a move of commercial satellites from the US Department of Defense (DoD) Munitions List to the Department of Commerce’s commerce control list (CCL).  This is a great step for the industry. Since the time commercial satellites were placed on the munitions list in 1999, the commercial satellite industry was almost wiped out.

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Morning NSRC 2013 Highlights


NSRC2013logoNEWSome morning highlights of the first day of the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2013 here in Broomfield, Colo.:

  • Addressing the group via video, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said NASA is not excluding the possibility that the Flight Opportunities program would fund human researchers on suborbital fights. Previously, NASA had said it would purchase flights for payloads but not for researchers to fly.
  • Garver provided no details on precisely what safety standards the space agency would require prior to paying for researchers to fly.
  • NASA has spent $29.5 million on the Flight Opportunities program over the past three years, and it has requested an additional $15 million for FY2014. In 2010, Garver addressed the first NSRC and said NASA would seek $15 million per year over 5 years, but the agency has not received all the funding it requested.
  • The deputy administrator also announced plans for a joint solicitation for science and tech payloads to be issued by NASA’s Science and Space Tech directorates. The solicitation is expected to be pushed in late summer or early fall.
  • XCOR Chief Operating Officer Andrew Nelson said that while satellites have been removed from the U.S. Munitions List in draft regulations, crew spacecraft have been added to it. Calling the decision a major step backward, Nelson urged urged audience members to oppose this move during the on-going public comments period.
  • Virgin Galactic Vice President for Special Projects Will Pomerantz said the company has taken reservations for nearly 600 people worldwide for flights aboard the company’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicles.
  • Pomerantz added that NanoRacks has delivered the first payload racks for flying experiments aboard the space plane.

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