Monday, December 4, 2023

FAA Reaches Agreement with Air Force Regarding Commercial Space

(Courtesy of Federal Aviation Administration)

NATIONWIDE — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of the Air Force have signed an agreement that aims at eliminating red tape while protecting public safety during commercial space activities at ranges operated by the U.S. Space Force.

According to a June 21 press release, the agreement recognizes common safety standards used for FAA-licensed launches as well as reentry activities that originate from, occur on, or return to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The agreement also removes duplicated processes and approvals for the U.S. commercial space sector.

Assured access to space is vital to our national security,” said Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth. The launch licensing standards provided in the agreement will support a rapidly expanding commercial launch sector and strengthen our space industrial base, bolstering our economy and enhancing our security as a nation.”

The FAA will conform to the Department of the Air Force’s ground safety rules and other safety processes, analyses, and products as long as they satisfy FAA regulations. In kind, the Department of the Air Force will accept FAA-licensing decisions and generally will not impose its own requirements for the flight portion of launch and reentry.

Also, the two agencies have agreed to consult with one another before responding to a commercial space operator request for relief from safety requirements and on the development of hazard areas. Both agencies will work together to publish materials related to ground safety and launch or reentry activities and collaborate on environmental reviews to ensure the government’s response is both prompt and consistent.

In 2020, the FAA licensed 39 commercial space launches. Of these launches, twenty-four occurred at or were supported by the U.S. Space Force.

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