Commercial Human Spaceflight Industry Lightly Regulated

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.
(more…)

House Praise for Space Measure Passage

Capitol Building
WASHINGTON, D.C. (House Leadership PR) –
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today praised Senate passage of a bicameral, bipartisan agreement on H.R. 2262, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. The bill consolidates language from the House-passed Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 or SPACE Act with provisions from S.1297, the Senate’s commercial space legislation. It provides much-needed guidance and regulatory certainty for America’s private space industry partners.
(more…)

Senate Passes Space Commercialization Act

Capitol Building
WASHINGTON (US Commercial Committee PR) –
U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-Mich.) issued the following statements on the passage of H.R. 2262, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, a bicameral, bipartisan bill that encourages competitiveness, reflects the needs of a modern-day U.S. commercial space industry, and guarantees operation of the International Space Station until at least 2024. The bill builds on key elements in S. 1297 that the Commerce Committee approved earlier this year and passed the Senate on August 4, 2015.

(more…)

House Passes Measure Extending Commercial Space Learning Period

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.

SpaceShipTwo: Lessons Learned on the Commercial Space Frontier

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

SpaceShipTwo had exploded.

At least that’s what it looked like from our vantage point at Jawbone Station on that fateful Halloween morning ten months ago. And that’s what it looked like in Ken Brown’s photos. Ken had been standing next to me, training his telephoto lens on the small spacecraft nine miles overhead.

(more…)

House Science Committee Gives Industry What It Wants

Capitol Building
The commercial space industry had a great day on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with the Republican-controlled House Science Committee giving it most of what it wanted while swatting away proposed changes from the minority Democrats.

Among the goodies approved by the committee: a decade-long extension of the moratorium on regulating commercial human spaceflight;  a nine-year extension of industry-government cost sharing for damages caused by launch accidents; and an act that would give companies property rights to materials they mine from asteroids.

(more…)