Washington, D.C. – This week the House Appropriations’ Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee passed their Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 spending bill. The legislation includes funding for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), which is a part of the Department of Transportation. The bill did not approve FAA AST’s $1.5 million requested budget increase for FY 2016, keeping FAA AST’s budget flat relative to their FY 2015 budget.

Since 2011, the commercial space sector has seen an increasing number of licensed launches each year, and as private companies enter their flight test phase, the number of applications, as well as the complexity and geographic diversity of launches, will just continue to grow. FAA AST plays a critical role in providing timely approval of launch permit and licenses for the commercial space industry, and their budget will constrain their ability to fulfill these responsibilities.

CSF President Eric Stallmer released the following statement regarding FAA AST’s funding for FY16:

“We understand that as long as the 2011 budget caps remain in place, Congress will be forced to make tough tradeoffs regarding funding priorities. With that said, funding this modest increase should be viewed as a priority, as it embodies a smart, growth-driven policy that provides certainty for the private sector to invest and innovate. The request is modest but the impact on productivity will be enormous, since without these funds the AST has stated it will be forced to enter into a triage process prioritizing government-related launches over private sector activity.”

Just this week, Blue Origin conducted a successful development flight of their New Shepard launch vehicle, and SpaceX conducted its fifth operational launch in four months. To continue on the current trajectory of the sector, we must ensure that the FAA AST has the resources it needs to work with the industry in a manner that will continue to promote growth, and improve public and occupant safety. The commercial space industry and government are partners in the economic development of space, and CSF looks forward to working with Congress to support this increase as it improves this bill through the legislative process.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.715.2928.