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White House.gov Press Office Feed

Thursday, June 21, 2012

FAA & NASA AGREE ON REGULATION OF COMMERCIAL SPACECRAFT


Photo:  Launch Of Commercial Spacecraft SpaceX Dragon To The ISS.    
Credit:  NASA.
FROM:  NASA
WASHINGTON -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NASA have 
signed a historic agreement to coordinate standards for commercial 
space travel of government and non-government astronauts to and from 
low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station (ISS). The two 
agencies will collaborate to expand efforts that provide a stable 
framework for the U.S. space industry, avoid conflicting requirements 
and multiple sets of standards, and advance both public and crew 
safety. 

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the two agencies 
establishes policy for operational missions to the space station. 
Commercial providers will be required to obtain a license from the 
FAA for public safety. Crew safety and mission assurance will be 
NASA's responsibility. This approach allows both agencies to 
incorporate experience and lessons learned as progress is made. 

"This important agreement between the FAA and NASA will advance our 
shared goals in commercial space travel," said U.S. Transportation 
Secretary Ray LaHood. "Working together, we will assure clear, 
consistent standards for the industry." 

"This agreement is the next step in bringing the business of launching 
Americans back to American soil," Charles Bolden, NASA administrator 
said. "We are fostering private sector innovation while maintaining 
high standards of safety and reliability to re-establish U.S.-crewed 
access to low-Earth orbit, in-sourcing work to American companies and 
encouraging the development of dynamic and cost-effective spaceflight 
capabilities built to last." 

"The Obama administration recognizes the scientific, technological and 
economic benefits of maintaining the United States' leadership in 
space travel and exploration," said FAA Acting Administrator Michael 
Huerta. "This agreement between the FAA and NASA continues and 
advances those vital national interests." 

NASA's Commercial Crew Program aims to facilitate development of a 
U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of 
achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from 
low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. The policy 
established in the MOU clarifies for potential commercial providers 
the regulatory environment for operational missions to the orbiting 
laboratory. It also ensures that the two agencies will have 
compatible processes for ensuring public safety. 

The FAA is responsible for regulating and licensing all U.S. private 
companies and individuals involved in commercial space 
transportation. To date, the FAA Office of Commercial Space 
Transportation has licensed 207 successful launches, including two 
non-orbital commercial human space flights in 2004 and the recent 
first launch to the ISS and re-entry of a non-manned commercial 
spacecraft.