FAA Readies to Regulate Commercial Human Spaceflight Safety 

The existing Congressional prohibition on regulating commercial human spaceflight is set to expire in October.

The recent rise in commercial space flights is prompting the FAA to take new steps related to passenger safety. 

The agency has launched a rulemaking committee to examine the cost and development of possible future regulations related to occupant safety during commercial space flights, it announced Thursday. The 25-member committee includes representatives from the FAA and industry, including Virgin Galactic, Boeing, SpaceX, and Blue Origin.

The agency is also updating recommended practices for commercial human space flights.

The news comes as an existing Congressional prohibition on enacting regulations on commercial human spaceflight is set to expire in October. The “regulatory learning period” legislation was first enacted in 2004 and was later extended by Congress in an effort to spur innovation.

“Under current federal law, the FAA cannot regulate the safety of individuals on board a space launch or reentry vehicle absent death, serious injury, or a close call,” the FAA said.

Under current regulations, participants of commercial space flights are informed of the hazards of space travel in writing.

“The committee is expected to gather recommendations from industry and other stakeholders to help the FAA plan, conceive, and implement—when the time is right—a well-informed, thoughtful, regulatory regime for commercial human spaceflight occupant safety,” the agency said in a statement. “Recommendations will be submitted to the FAA next summer.”


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