FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation
As SpaceX gears up for another test flight of a Starship prototype, the Federal Aviation Administration is facing new scrutiny from Congress for how it handled SpaceX’s violation of its launch license on an earlier test flight.
Proponents of a proposed Georgia launch site remain optimistic they will win approval from the Federal Aviation Administration despite another delay in the environmental review process.
As launch activity grows on the Eastern Range in Florida, companies and government agencies are looking at ways to add capacity, largely through incremental improvements.
The FAA said that SpaceX violated the conditions of a launch license for its Starship vehicle during a launch in December, prompting an investigation that delayed tests of another vehicle.
As SpaceX prepares for the first high-altitude test flight of its Starship reusable launch vehicle, the FAA is starting a new environmental review required for the company’s future launch vehicle plans.
The revised rules for commercial launch and reentry will be officially posted for public comment in the coming weeks, said Wayne Monteith, the FAA’s associate administrator for commercial space transportation.
The FAA’s rapid success in creating updated launch and reentry rules reflects its leadership’s measured look at the current regulations and willingness to build on what they have learned from the commercial launch community.
The FAA's recently updated commercial space launch and reentry licensing requirements "will simplify the licensing process, allow more room for innovation, and reduce costs — all without sacrificing safety," writes U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The commercial space industry hopes to continue recent progress in regulatory reform even if there is a new president or a change in party control in Congress after the election.
The FAA released Oct. 15 the final version of updated commercial launch and reentry regulations, although those in industry say the regulatory reform process is far from over.
A spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee July 14 once again rejects an administration proposal to combine the Office of Space Commerce with another office and increase its budget to perform space traffic management work.
A White House official said June 22 that while the administration supports commercial space transportation, companies with ambitions of high-speed point-to-point suborbital spaceflight should focus on near-term goals instead.
SpaceX has received a license from the Federal Aviation Administration allowing the company to carry out suborbital flight tests of its Starship next-generation launch vehicle.
As the Federal Aviation Administration licenses another commercial spaceport, it has formally opened an office to address the issues facing such launch sites.