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Space industry expresses opposition to White House regulatory proposal

Not surprisingly, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), the industry group that represents pretty much the entire new commercial space business, has sent a letter to both the House and Senate expressing strong opposition to the November 15th White House regulatory proposal that would impose heavy regulation on both launches and the construction of any private facility in space.

“We oppose the recently released National Space Council (NSPC) proposal on the topic in its current form, which fails to consider the points that CSF and many other stakeholders raised during the NSPC listening sessions last year,” CSF said in its letter to Congress.

The organization raised several concerns, including how responsibilities would be split between the two departments and the potential for “duplicative and conflicting” requirements between Commerce and Transportation. “For some operations, it is unclear which agency would hold the authority to issue a relevant license, or if multiple licenses would be needed,” it stated.

The group is concerned about giving additional responsibilities to the FAA’s commercial space transportation office without also significantly increasing its budget, noting that the office is struggling to keep up with its current launch and reentry licensing. At an October hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee, industry officials recommended increasing that office’s budget to handle launch licensing work, without any discussion of it taking on additional responsibilities.

CSF was also worried that the proposed mission authorization system could disrupt plans by NASA to shift from the International Space Station to commercial stations by the end of the decade. “Introducing a bifurcated and unclear regulatory regime for commercial space stations,” the letter stated, “could risk U.S. leadership in low-Earth orbit.”

Apparently the entire space industry came to the same conclusion I did after reading the White House proposal after its release:

Essentially, these new rules — purposely written to be vague — will allow the government to forbid any activity in space by private citizens it chooses to forbid. No private space station could launch without government approval, which will also include the government’s own determination that the station will be operatied safely. Once launched, the vagueness of these regulations will soon allow mission creep so that every new activity in space will soon fall under its review.

Since no one in the government is qualified to supervise things like this, in the end politics and the abuse of power will be the rule.

It must be noted that the entire Democratic Party caucus in the House apparently approves of this power grab, because they immediately abandoned all support of the previously negotiated proposal that the industry and Congress had worked out and a House committee was about to pass. Their opposition forced that committee vote to be canceled. According to that committee, it will resume its consideration of that bill today. We shall see if this industry opposition changes any of their minds.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • sippin_bourbon

    At least they are recognizing that this is a power grab.
    I am a little surprised that this grab was not so subtle.

    My concern is that they will go to the play book, and start implementing the same stuff incrementally.

  • Milt

    This may be a case of seeing a single robin in the early spring and making too much of it, but it looks like the denizens of the regulatory swamp might be getting a rude awakening:


    According to The Atlantic, the case before SCOTUS could “destroy” government as we know it — heart be still! — describing the bases of the challenge as a “fringe legal theory.”

    The AP does it better, describing this case as a challenge to our overwrought administrative state, focusing on the inequities of extrajudicial trials and law making by federal agencies:

    “[The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals] found that the SEC’s case against [the plaintiff]
    resulting in a $300,000 civil fine and the repayment of $680,000 in allegedly ill-gotten gains,
    should have been heard in a federal court instead of before one of the SEC’s administrative
    law judges.

    The panel also said Congress unconstitutionally granted the SEC “unfettered authority” to
    decide whether the case should be tried in a court of law or handled within the executive
    branch agency. And it said laws shielding the commission’s administrative law judges from
    being fired by the president are unconstitutional.”

    Does Elon Musk know about this “fringe legal theory” that federal agencies — including the FAA and the EPA — ought to (gasp!) abide by the strictures of the Constitution?

    Thank goodness we still have a “fringe” who still have some inkling of what our Constitution entails and the Founder’s vision of an American Republic.

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