Skip to comments.Congress Passes Bill Allowing Space Tours
Posted on 12/09/2004 6:03:29 AM PST by Brett66
By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Outer space could become the final frontier of tourism under legislation passed Wednesday by the Senate to regulate commercial human spaceflight.
The bill, approved by voice vote in the final minutes of the 108th Congress, would authorize the Federal Aviation Administration to issue permits allowing private spacecraft operators to blast paying passengers into space.
The agency would also regulate the young industry, which was invigorated by the successful flights of a privately financed manned rocket over California's Mojave Desert in October.
While laws exist to regulate private-sector space endeavors such as satellite launches, there is no legal jurisdiction for regulating commercial human spaceflight. Even without one, entrepreneurs have announced plans to offer private space flights within several years, and wealthy thrill-seekers are plunking down deposits.
The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004, by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher , R-Calif., passed the House last month and will now go to the president for his signature.
"This is a great victory for the future of America's space efforts," Rohrabacher said. "The people who will invest the type of big dollars necessary to make this a major new step in mankind's ascent into space have been waiting for the government to lay down the regulatory regime and set the rules of the game, and this is the first major step towards doing that."
Senate passage came only after the bill stalled several times because of disagreements over how much safety protections to offer potential space tourists and crew.
The final version allows the Federal Aviation Administration to begin issuing regulations to protect the safety of passengers and crew only eight years after the bill becomes law. Before then, the agency may restrict design features or operating practices only if they've resulted in a serious or fatal injury to passengers or crew, or caused an unsafe unplanned event.
Rohrabacher and industry lobbyists contended that space tourists must fly at their own risk, and that more stringent safety regulations would stifle innovation. Some Democrats had pushed for tougher safety regulations.
The bill requires passengers to be informed of the risks involved, and the Federal Aviation Administration may issue regulations to protect the non-flying public's health and property and the country's national security and foreign policy interests.
The bill is H.R. 5382.
AN interesting concept. How is it that the government has the right to regulate satellite launches? And how long do you think it will be before the arrogant denizens of Foggy Bottom presume their right to control who has access to space?
Apparently, there is no new resource discovered that doesn't fall under their auspice.
Because in signing the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, it accepted responsibility for all launches emanating from the United States. It has to regulate the activity in order to maintain that responsibility. And even in the absence of that treaty, public safety dictates that it be regulated. That's like asking what right the government has to regulate aircraft.
Huh? How is a satellite launch a threat to public safety?
That's like asking what right the government has to regulate aircraft.
What right does the government have to regulate aircraft?
Rockets can blow up, or fall on children, and other living things. Or are you unfamiliar with rocketry?
What right does the government have to regulate aircraft?
[Backing away slowly...]
Ask the FAA. They do it 24/7.
So can automobiles. Or any ballistic projectile. This has much less to do with rocketry than with government presumption.
[Backing away slowly...] Ask the FAA. They do it 24/7.
That they do it does not mean they SHOULD or have a RIGHT to do it.
Apprently you are of the school that believes that what is is right, and that the government has the right to regulate whatever it decides it has the right to regulate.
I'm more inclined to question that presumption.
Do you delude yourself that those things are unregulated? And do you think that it's possible for an exploding car, or an inert ballistic projectile, to do anywhere near the damage of an exploding or falling launch vehicle?
If you want to live in a fantasy world in which there should be zero government regulation of any form of transportation, fine, but out here in the real world, where it's going to continue to do so, the case for regulating launch systems is greater than that for any other form of transportation.
Oh yeah, it's a great way to stifle progress and creativity. I mean, gee, NASA is such an excellent government-run operation; they're tip-top. Thank God we now have government in space! Phew! I was worried there for a second that we might have inexpensive and readily available commercial space flight in the next 10 years. Well thank God that government got involved!
You're right. The FAA has no legitimate reason to exist.
What does NASA have to do with it? NASA is not involved in launch regulation.
But thanks to a bureaucracy unmatched in history, one of the few forward thinkers of modern aviation has to go to some desk pilot hat in hand and ask permission to push back the frontiers of ignorance.
I feel safer already. And by the way, your "real world" sucks.
No, it's not, but it is government meddling in something that it doesn't belong, and bad results coming from it.
The entire point of SpaceShipOne was to show that private industry, without government interference, could achieve space flight relatively cheaply and efficiently.
But Congress, God forbid, can't let anyone know that people can be successful without the government, has to come in and regulate something that it has absolutely NO business regulating. Congress looks at all of this as a turf war. They don't want people undermining the government, so they regulate it. Then they can get on tv in their re-election campaigns and spew a bunch of crap about how they are protecting the people from those evil corporations that want nothing more than to put paying customers on death traps and launch them into outerspace simply to blow them up into a neat and spectacular fireball. Because, after all, it's so good for business to kill your customers.
Actually, putting this under the FAA is a big step forward. Before now, space launch has been considered to be on the same level as ordinance testing in terms of safety. That is one of the huge legacy issues with launchers. They evolved from artillery rockets and most people in the industry just tend to think of them as larger versions of military ordinance.
To start treating launchers as a transportation system is a whole new paradigm that is long overdue.
It may, in many ways, but that doesn't change that fact that it's where we (at least some of us) have to live.
You don't get it. The FAA has always regulated commercial launch, ever since there was such a thing, and the government is obligated by the Outer Space Treaty to do so. What Congress did was to provide better guidance to the Department of Transportation as to how to regulate with respect to passenger vehicles, something that the industry has been asking for, because the current uncertainty made it very difficult to raise investment. This was a bill that was requested by the industry.
Congress looks at all of this as a turf war. They don't want people undermining the government, so they regulate it.
Congress didn't care about this. They came up with this legislation due to heavy lobbying by companies such as XCOR Aerospace. This is a huge victory for those of us who have been fighting to develop a space tourism industry.
Then they can get on tv in their re-election campaigns and spew a bunch of crap about how they are protecting the people from those evil corporations that want nothing more than to put paying customers on death traps
This has nothing to do with paying customers. The law was written to explicitly exclude regulations in that regard, other than requiring that the launch company develop a passenger training regime as part of the launch license. The regulations are to protect the safety of uninvolved third parties, not customers (something that has always been required). You have no idea what you're talking about.
BS. The expression of interest does not carry with it an understanding of the real situation.
The 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty requires signatory countries to regulate space business based within their territory. The regulation is merely bending to the requirements of the Treaty.
However, the Treaty also makes private claims to space resources impossible and by a crystal clear chain of reason this makes development of space resources impossible.
Withdraw from the Treaty, then we will entertain the idea that Rohrabacher is not just talking through his hat.
space policy ping
And exactly what added value does the FAA bring to the table?
Ah yes. The mating call of the morally indifferent. "It is, therefore it is right."