One of the biggest complaints in the space business community, particularly among entrepreneurs, is the headaches created by export control regulations, specifically International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). There is an existence proof now, however, demonstrating that these hurdles can be overcome: SPACE.com reports that the State Department has issued an agreement—presumably a technical assistance agreement (TAA), although the specific term is not used in the article—between US-based Scaled Composites and UK-based Virgin Galactic regarding the development of SpaceShipTwo.
The agreement is not a surprise: Virgin and Scaled had been dealing with the export control paperwork for months, as Virgin Galactic’s Will Whitehorn mentioned in Congressional testimony back in April. What Whitehorn doesn’t reveal in the SPACE.com report, though, is how much effort getting the TAA cost the companies in terms of time and money, other than a passing mention that the work was spread over five months. That’s not necessarily a huge issue for a well-capitalized venture like this; whether this has smoothed the path for future entrepreneurs whose pockets are not nearly as deep as Branson’s, though, remains to be seen.