ITAR confusion

An Aerospace Daily article Monday claims that export controls “could prevent commercial space operators from taking non-U.S. citizens on spaceflights”. “Reforming ITAR will allow us to fly a Canadian citizen into space without his getting a security clearance,” claimed Marc Holzapfel, senior counsel for Virgin Galactic.

But wait a moment. Wasn’t this issue resolved last month, when The Economist reported that Bigelow had won an exemption that covered passengers on its orbital modules? The issue was the same there: concerns that customers (spaceflight participants) would have to get TAAs in order to receive even basic, safety-critical technical information. The Bigelow ruling means no such agreements are needed, but that’s not mentioned in the Aerospace Daily article.

The article was based on the “Entrepreneurial Space and Export Controls” meeting held last week in Washington. I wasn’t able to attend, but Ken Davidian took extensive notes available on the Commercial Space Wiki. Apparently Bigelow’s ruling applies only to that company; however, other companies hope that if they file similar requests they will be granted similar exemptions.

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