Good news: Virgin Galactic has been cleared by the State Department to fly foreign tourists without obtaining an export license.
[Mark Sundahl, an associate professor of law at Cleveland State University in Ohio], said that without this determination from State, allowing a non-U.S. citizen to ride in a Virgin spacecraft — or even training a non-U.S. citizen to do so — would legally have been an export activity that required federal approval. The time it takes to obtain an export license varies, but several months is a reasonable estimate, said Sundahl, who specializes in international commerce and space law. “Under ITAR, any disclosure of controlled technical data to a foreign national, even if the disclosure takes place in the U.S., is treated as an ‘export’ of the technical data — which would require a license from the Department of State in addition to imposing other regulatory burdens on the exporter,” Sundahl said.
Freed from this regulatory requirement will make it easier for Virgin Galactic, as well as others, to sell tickets.