FAA Looks Forward to Working with Innovators in Commercial Space Transportation

Before an aerospace industry Commercial Space Panel at the Paris Air Show today, Acting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Daniel K. Elwell told participants that the Department of Transportation is building a regulatory framework to retain United States leadership and enable the limitless potential and possibilities of commercial space.

Dan Elwell

“We look forward to working with commercial space innovators and within agencies throughout the Administration to maintain American competitiveness and safety in this critical industry,” said Elwell.

Elwell credited much of the success of the United States in commercial space transportation to the administration’s approach to make sure regulatory requirements do not hamstring industry. Recently, the FAA put forward a proposed rulemaking to streamline and get rid of rules that have outlived their usefulness, are duplicative, or unnecessarily burdensome. Two more rulemakings are being prepared to improve how FAA oversees spaceports and provide better access and interaction with commercial space and air traffic operations.

The Acting Administrator reasserted that safety remains the agency’s primary mission and has led to a record, that to date, has resulted in no public injuries or fatalities in the more than 370 FAA-licensed commercial space activities.

Elwell cited ever-increasing launch activity as evidence in the vibrancy and growth of the commercial space sector:

23 successful launches in 2017;

33 successful launches in 2018, a new record; and,

As many as 41 launches are on the calendar for this year.

The Acting Administrator also highlighted recent milestones and success:

In December and February Virgin Galactic successfully completed two more crewed commercial launches going above 50 statute miles, adding five new Commercial Space astronauts to the rolls, including the first woman, Beth Moses;

SpaceX and Boeing plan to carry astronauts to the Space Station on FAA-licensed launches in the near future;

In April, America and world saw the first commercial payload launched by SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket; and,

Earlier this month, the FAA supported three commercial launches within three days (Rocket Lab in New Zealand, Blue Origin in Texas, and SpaceX in Florida).