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George Nield, who has been the associate administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is going to retire at the end of March.
Nield has held the position for the past 15 years, and has been a big supporter of private commercial space. While Congress has passed laws during this time period that gave his office lots of regulatory power and thus the ability to lord it over these new companies, Nield instead worked with them so that their efforts would not be hampered by the government. The result has been the birth of a thriving competitive and innovative private launch industry.
I fear what will happen with the next person to hold this position. History tells us that bureaucracies always expand their power with every opportunity, with such expansions often instigated by the arrival of new bureaucrats eager to take advantage of the regulations to build themselves an empire.