- Press Release
- August 12, 2022
Rocket Industry Leaders Look to Congress to Solve Regulatory Logjam at FAA
A coalition of rocket entrepreneurs, citizens’ groups, and public policy experts are hoping Congress can resolve a regulatory logjam that threatens to keep new American reusable launch vehicles stuck on the ground, or even the drawing board, instead of flying toward space.
“As Werner Von Braun said, ‘we can lick gravity but the paperwork is overwhelming,” said James Muncy, a space policy consultant to several interested companies and investors. “Different parts of the Federal Aviation Administration regulate the 100-year old aviation industry and the emerging commercial space transportation industry. Unfortunately, the aviation guys want to regulate these new space entrepreneurs the same way they regulate huge corporations like United Airlines or Boeing. If the Wright Brothers had faced such a burden, they would never have gotten off the ground.”
A diverse coalition of businesses, customers, public interest organizations, and public policy experts have joined together to call on Congress to confirm the authority of the Federation Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) to license the commercial reusable launch vehicle industry.
“The Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 is clear,” said Jeff Greason, CEO of XCOR Aerospace, a rocket engines and rocket powered vehicles company based in Mojave, California. “The law directs the Secretary of Transportation to license suborbital rockets and says that no permission from any other executive agency is required. Currently licensing responsibility is delegated to AST. After working with AST, we are confident they have the resources and expertise necessary both to protect the public and get American business flying into space.”
Members of this coalition include CEOs of prominent space transportation companies, the world’s first space tourist Dennis Tito, leaders of some of the largest space public interest groups, and prominent transportation policy experts. A complete list of participants is provided below.
“The U.S. suborbital rocket industry has the potential to develop a world-dominating business base in commercial human spaceflight space tourism,” said Brian Chase, executive director of the National Space Society (NSS). “In the near future, space will be open to the public, changing how citizens view space transportation and exploration. NSS is committed to helping ensure government policies and regulations help, not hinder, this fledgling industry.”
Coalition members assert that the current tussle over regulatory authority is negatively impacting investment in their industry. Investors and potential partners are reluctant to risk capital in an environment with so much governmental licensing uncertainty.
The simplest, clearest and most effective solution is for Congress to clarify and strengthen the original intent of the Commercial Space Launch Act by defining key terms such as “suborbital rocket” in law and putting these vehicles exclusively under the jurisdiction of AST.
“We aren’t asking for government money, just a clear and stable regulatory environment in which we can create new jobs, new launch vehicles, and new opportunities for Americans to fulfill their dreams of flying into space,” said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures Ltd, the world’s leading space tourism company.
The suborbital RLV industry is focused on providing space transportation for everyone. Many companies are working to develop reusable vehicles capable of affordably transporting space flight participants to the edge of space.
Space Flight Participant
National Space Society
Space Frontier Foundation
Aerospace States Association
X PRIZE Foundation
Director of Transportation Studies, Reason Foundation
Contact: Rich Pournelle