FAA finalises new commercial spaceflight rules

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The US Federal Aviation Administration has finalised new rules it says streamline oversight of commercial spaceflight, enabling continued expansion of the commercial space industry.

The US Federal Aviation Administration has finalised new rules it says streamline oversight of commercial spaceflight, enabling continued expansion of the commercial space industry.

The new “Streamlining of Launch and Reentry Licensing Requirements” fall under a new Part 450 set of rules.

“This rule modernises the way FAA regulates and licenses commercial space operations and allows the burgeoning aerospace industry to continue to innovate and grow, while maintaining public safety,” says the FAA.

spacex-capsule

Source: SpaceX (video feed)

Commercial space company SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule, during crew recovery operations.

“This historic, comprehensive update to commercial space launch and re-entry licensing requirements facilitates greater growth in this industry and helps America to maintain our number one position in the world,” adds US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The FAA announced the rule’s finalisation on 15 October. The new rule replaces four previous rules and takes effect after 90 days.

Notably, Part 450 will give the FAA authority to issue single space operator licenses that permit “multiple launches or re-entries from potentially multiple launch-site locations”, says the FAA.

The rules allow license applicants to negotiate shorter application review periods. Additionally, applicants will be able to apply for safety approvals as part of license applications, rather than being required to file for separate safety approvals, the FAA says.

The new regulations also change the government’s ground-safety oversight to “better fit the safety risks”, and reduces “duplicative” ground-safety requirements, it says.

“This rule streamlines and increases flexibility in the FAA’s commercial space launch and reentry regulations, and removes obsolete requirements,” the regulation says. “It consolidates and revises multiple regulatory parts and applies a single set of licensing and safety regulations across several types of operations and vehicles.”

Part 450 will replace existing Part 415 launch license rules, Part 417 launch safety rules, and Part 431 and 435 rules, which apply to vehicle launch and reentry.

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