Lobbying to save commercial space

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Jeff Foust reports today that the long delayed final FAA reauthorization bill also includes language that will extend until 2015 the restrictions on the FAA’s ability to regulate commercial space.

How nice of them.

When the Commercial Space Law Amendments Act (CSLAA) passed in 2004 I wrote in my UPI column Space Watch that I thought it was a bad idea and would cause great harm to the commercial space industry. All the law accomplished was hand power to the FAA and Congress to restrict commercial activities in space, without providing the industry any real benefit. Even with this extension space commercial companies remain at the mercy of Congressional action or FAA regulation, neither of which is really interested in helping this new industry.

The bad elements of the bill are finally beginning to come to light.

Even though the new language limits the ability of the FAA to regulate this industry until 2015, that regulatory power hangs over the industry like an guillotine. Eventually, that guillotine will fall, and when it does, the new space companies are going to find their flexibility and their ability to innovate to be badly squelched.

Ideally, the bill should be repealed. Realistically, that isn’t going to happen, so the best thing that can happen is for this new industry to make as much progress as fast as possible, making as much money as they can, so that they can garner enough political clout to fight the regulatory burdens the law puts on them. Maybe eventually they will be powerful enough to force the law’s revision or repeal.


One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *