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New era of US commercial space transportation begins

Innovation in commercial space transportation is increasing dramatically, and policy needs to keep up

  • The new rule took effect on March 21
  • The rule streamlines and modernizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial space launch and reentry licensing regulations
  • Number of FAA-licensed commercial space launches has dramatically accelerated

The United States is leading the way to a new era of commercial space transportation with a final rule that streamlines the licensing process for private sector launch and reentry operations.

“Innovation in commercial space transportation is increasing dramatically, and policy needs to keep up. This rule will help us to prepare for future U.S. leadership in commercial space transportation by facilitating the continued economic growth and innovation of the American aerospace industry and ensuring the highest level of public safety,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The new rule took effect on March 21 and arose from a directive of the National Space Council to encourage American leadership in space commerce. The rule aims to support greater innovation, flexibility and efficiency in commercial space operations. It also seeks to keep pace with the dramatic increase in the $400 billion global space industry that is expected to generate revenues of $1.1 trillion or more by 2040.

The rule streamlines and modernizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial space launch and reentry licensing regulations by eliminating obsolete requirements, replacing most prescriptive requirements with performance-based criteria and reducing duplicative regulations.

It also establishes a single set of licensing and safety regulations for several types of commercial space operations and vehicles. For example, one license could support multiple launches and reentries at multiple locations—a game-changing innovation that will make this process more efficient.