Congress, Other

House appropriators tell FAA to focus more on air than space

Earlier this month the transportation subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee passed a 2012 appropriations bill that included only $13 million for the FAA’s OFfice of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), less than half the administration’s request of $26.6 million and below the FY11 level of $15 million. The report accompanying the appropriations bill has recently been released by the committee, and it indicates that appropriators believe the FAA should be focusing its resources more on aviation issues, including air traffic control, than spaceflight.

“Given the challenges facing the Federal Aviation Administration with NextGen, safety oversight, rulemaking activities, and the operation of the world’s largest 24 hour air traffic control system, the Committee denies the Administration’s request for additional staff and resources for this office,” the report states, referring to AST. “Given the constrained resource environment that is facing the agency, the FAA can ill afford to divert resources away from core mission activities to this office.”

The big losers in the House bill are two new initiatives, a Commercial Spaceflight Technical Center in Florida and a proposed $5-million low-cost access to space prize. Neither program would receive any money in the House bill, accounting for most of the difference between the House bill and the administration’s request.

[Disclosure: my employer does work for FAA/AST, but it not involved with either the technical center or prize projects.]

65 comments to House appropriators tell FAA to focus more on air than space

  • Robert G. Oler

    There is a bigger story here. The House is upset with the FAA NAS modernization plans (ie how to do future airspace operations). The House wants to stay with the current radar based system while all the recommendations are to transition to a ADS B system. In addition the House is trying to break the FAA Unions…RGO

  • vulture4

    After 20 years FAA is finally ready to move into the twentieth century with ADSB and Congress says no? Also, i thought Reagan already broke the unions.

  • amightywind

    The FDA is not alone. Many activist and ‘entrepreneurial’ government agencies need to be reined in to their core missions. Formally regulating an ‘industry’ in which there is one participant (Virgin Galactic), that has not flown, is frivolous. The FAA would be wiser to insure that their controllers stay awake on the job.

    In addition the House is trying to break the FAA Unions

    A worthy goal. We cannot have the safety of the American flying public held hostage to extravagant union demands. Collective bargaining for government employees should be outlawed, as FDR suggested.

  • Formally regulating an ‘industry’ in which there is one participant (Virgin Galactic), that has not flown, is frivolous.

    This is an even more idiotic and ignorant post from the troll than usual. The FAA has been issuing launch licenses for decades, including all of the ones for SpaceX’s flights.

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    “After 20 years FAA is finally ready to move into the twentieth century with ADSB and Congress says no?”

    there is a very powerful “radar” lobby and it has a very heavy hand in the pockets of mostly GOP representatives. Pete Olson has been particularly dissapointing on so many issues but here as well.

    RGO

  • vulture4

    The FAA isn’t being “entrepreneurial” in trying to modernize the ATC system, which has changed only marginally since the invention of radar. I may be missing something, but shouldn’t NASA have been working with the FAA all this time to advance ATC? NASA is supposed to be entrepreneurial.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 12:56 pm
    ” The FAA would be wiser to insure that their controllers stay awake on the job.

    …………..

    A worthy goal. We cannot have the safety of the American flying public held hostage to extravagant union demands”

    Usually I just ignore you (and I am one of the better folks here at it) as you are one of the few genuine trolls…having said that, sometimes you out troll yourself.

    The group that was pushing for no “single crewing” of towers at major airports during the late shift, was the union. They were arguing that it was a safety issue.

    Sometimes you know so little about something that you are entertaining RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    “The FAA isn’t being “entrepreneurial” in trying to modernize the ATC system, which has changed only marginally since the invention of radar.”

    the irony of course is that the ATC system is essentially a “beacon” system now anyway. There are “skin paint” radars at both terminal facilities (s band) and very large L band search radars enroute…but the computer systems which go a long way toward making the ATC system work, simply cannot function on a “primary” target.

    in fact as 9/11 demonstrated when the beacons went away it took sometime to even get the screens to display primary targets particularly in the high altitude sectors.

    ADSB has the ability to revolutionize RNP navigation (aka free flight) and with the help of satellites everywhere RGO

  • DCSCA

    “The big losers in the House bill are two new initiatives, a Commercial Spaceflight Technical Center in Florida and a proposed $5-million low-cost access to space prize.”

    And the big winners are the American taxpayers. Thanksgiving is coming and these two turkeys will be killed. They can be funded by the private capital markets– if there’s a need and any chance for some kind of ROI.

  • vulture4

    I must admit I did not know about the “radar lobby”. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

    As to the FAA commercial spaceflight technical center, really it is intended to work with the industry, not against it. There are already several potential carriers and commercial passengers do expect a certain amount of safety and order in flight. I have been impressed that the FAA is asking for industry input at every stage and keeping the regulatory proposals for commercial human spaceflight as close as possible to the established regulatory framework of commercial aviation.

  • Das Boese

    “Given the constrained resource environment that is facing the agency, the FAA can ill afford to divert resources away from core mission activities to this office.”

    And the resources are constrained because…?

    Given the challenges facing the Federal Aviation Administration (…) the Committee denies the Administration’s request for additional staff and resources for this office,”

    Circular reasoning? Anyone care to explain this to me?

  • I have been impressed that the FAA is asking for industry input at every stage and keeping the regulatory proposals for commercial human spaceflight as close as possible to the established regulatory framework of commercial aviation.

    Actually, they’re not doing the latter, and it would be disastrous if they did.

  • Coastal Ron

    If the Republicans in the House don’t want to fund the regulatory agencies that oversee commercial space, then they should propose removing the need for commercial space to seek FAA approval for any flights they want to do.

    But removing the FAA funding while keeping the requirements in place is very hypocritical of supposedly “Business Friendly” Republicans. They now become the obstacle to getting Americans get back to work, which isn’t a good position to be in prior to an election.

  • Nemo

    I may be missing something, but shouldn’t NASA have been working with the FAA all this time to advance ATC? NASA is supposed to be entrepreneurial.

    What you’re missing is that no president has ever proposed a NASA budget with such a program, nor has Congress ever authorized nor appropriated funds for such a program.

  • @Das Boese:

    And the resources are constrained because…?

    Debt?

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Debt?

    Nope

  • @Coastal Ron:

    Nope

    Actually, pretty sure that’s the reason.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    If the Republicans in the House don’t want to fund the regulatory agencies that oversee commercial space, then they should propose removing the need for commercial space to seek FAA approval for any flights they want to do.

    Not a bad idea.

  • Daddy

    This looks like the perfect storm… Let’s throw money at commercial space entrepreneurs to flourish on NASA’s turf and then choke off any regulatory oversight from OCST.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Actually, pretty sure that’s the reason.

    Nope.

    “The debt” can be used as the excuse for not spending money for just about anything – when was the last year our nation was debt free? Yet we keep spending money, so that can’t be the reason.

    Saying “debt” is the reason ignores the real reasons why that specific task or function is not being funded. FAA licensing of spaceflight activity affects commerce, so why not defund some non-commerce activity and transfer the money over to the FAA? Or charge higher fees to cover the government’s costs?

    The short answer is that the House Republicans doesn’t want the FAA to have the additional money. As to their motivations, only they know why, but as is usual for politicians of all stripes, it’s political related, not debt related.

  • @Daddy
    “Let’s throw money at commercial space entrepreneurs to flourish on NASA’s turf and then choke off any regulatory oversight from OCST.”
    I don’t know what you’re smoking but judging from your weird twisted thought processes, it probably isn’t legal. NASA is paying for only part: of the expense of the systems that those “commercial space entrepreneurs” are developing for NASA. For SLS, NASA (and hence the American taxpayer) is footing the entire bill — a bill that is larger by orders of magnitude than the total NASA has allocated for commercial crew. Also, NASA pays the commercial entities only parts of the development money incrementally as the companies successfully complete predefined goals (including safety goals) specified ahead of time by NASA. If they don’t meet any one of the goals they don’t get paid. Under the cost-plus contracting system for SLS, companies get paid for work whether it successfully gets done or not.
    As for oversight, though OCST has not been doing it up to now, there already is existing oversight from NASA that is constantly scutinizing the commercial vehicles and systems to make sure that safety, performance goals and other standards are met.

    So SLS is really where money is literally being thrown at vehicle development. Not just thrown at but thrown away.

  • vulture4

    V4: I may be missing something, but shouldn’t NASA have been working with the FAA all this time to advance ATC?

    Nemo: no president has ever proposed a NASA budget with such a program, nor has Congress ever authorized nor appropriated funds for such a program.”nor has Congress ever authorized nor appropriated funds for such a program”

    V4: From the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958: “aeronautical and space activities” means research into, and the solution of, problems of flight WITHIN and outside the earth’s atmosphere”
    also consider:
    http://www.aviationsystemsdivision.arc.nasa.gov/facilities/cvsrf/atcs.shtml

  • @Coastal Ron:

    “The debt” can be used as the excuse for not spending money for just about anything – when was the last year our nation was debt free? Yet we keep spending money, so that can’t be the reason.

    Because failure to do a thing alone demonstrates a lack of concern or commitment. Gotchya.

    Saying “debt” is the reason ignores the real reasons why that specific task or function is not being funded.

    No need to tip-toe around it. Your views on a Congressional conspiracy to quash commercial are well known.

    FAA licensing of spaceflight activity affects commerce, so why not defund some non-commerce activity and transfer the money over to the FAA?

    Why infuse additional monies into the FAA in the first place?

    Or charge higher fees to cover the government’s costs?

    And what would Congress have to do with FAA’s decision to hike or not to hike fees?

    The short answer is that the House Republicans doesn’t want the FAA to have the additional money.

    Because of the debt.

  • As for oversight, though OCST has not been doing it up to now, there already is existing oversight from NASA that is constantly scutinizing the commercial vehicles and systems to make sure that safety, performance goals and other standards are met.

    FAA-AST (not OCST) has been launching every commercial flight to date, and will continue to do so, regardless of which budget number they get. The problem is that if they lack the resources, it may delay issues of licenses, causing schedule slips. The notion that this FAA budget cut is good for commercial space is lunacy.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    No need to tip-toe around it. Your views on a Congressional conspiracy to quash commercial are well known.

    I don’t talk about or infer conspiracies, so no, you’re imagining things.

    And I don’t see a concerted effort to “quash commercial”. Instead what I see is an effort to fund politically connected programs which happen to compete for the same scarce funds as programs that are less politically connected (not to mention less money overall). And those less expensive programs tend to be commercially oriented.

    Once you understand that, you won’t have to concoct conspiracies to explain why certain things in the space arena happen the way they do.

    At a higher level this is really a matter of direction. The committees in Congress that oversee NASA like the way NASA has always worked, with predictable amounts of money going to the same contractors and the same NASA centers. But if you keep doing things the same way you’re not going to get a different result. That’s why many of us support a break from the past ways of doing things.

    For myself, I advocate for those things that lower the cost to access space. The SLS doesn’t do that, so that’s why I don’t support the SLS. SpaceX is trying to do that, so I support their efforts. ULA I also support, with the hope that they will be able to change their cost structure before being being priced out of the market.

    I guess you could say I support the commercial efforts because they bring competition, and competition helps to keep costs in check and tends to introduce innovation at a quicker pace. Both of which are lacking with government-only programs like the SLS/MPCV.

  • @Rand Simberg
    Thanks for the extra info, Rand.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    And I don’t see a concerted effort to “quash commercial”. Instead what I see is an effort to fund politically connected programs which happen to compete for the same scarce funds as programs that are less politically connected (not to mention less money overall). And those less expensive programs tend to be commercially oriented.

    Put up or shut up time. Show me where commercial has suffered due to competition with heavy lift funding. Please. I’m dying to know.

  • Bennett

    “Show me where commercial has suffered due to competition with heavy lift funding. “

    Ron, this joker is being intentionally obtuse, and therefore not worth responding to.

    Not only has the CCDev budget been funded below administration requests, but the paltry amount that HAS been funded has built-in constraints relating to SLS contracts.

    Given this, could a serious mature adult actually write “Put up or shut up time.”?

    Ummm…

    No.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bennett wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Ron, this joker is being intentionally obtuse

    He is an interesting one. Definitely more likely to critique than contribute. But I tend to look at my responses as explaining my viewpoints to the audience in general, and not just the poster.

    Not only has the CCDev budget been funded below administration requests, but the paltry amount that HAS been funded has built-in constraints relating to SLS contracts.

    Yep, that’s pretty clear. Our host, Jeff Foust, even covered this in his “Details on the Senate’s NASA budget” blog topic (posted 9/16), where he stated:

    The bill includes $500 million for Commercial Crew, but only $307.4 million will initially be available. The remaining $192.6 million would be released only after NASA publishes “the notifications to implement acquisition strategy” for SLS and starts to execute “relevant contract actions in support of development of SLS”.

    Hopefully just a short-term delay, but it points to how closely linked the two programs are in the minds of the Space committees in Congress (not Congress at large).

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Show me where commercial has suffered due to competition with heavy lift funding.

    I’m sure you’ve read the above, which shows that in the minds of certain politicians, Commercial Crew is related to SLS.

    And of course we’re talking about a competition of funds, not some sort of open, public, competition for a product or service like CCDev has been. SLS was a backroom Congressional design – about as un-open as you can get.

    The easiest way to see this competition of funds is with the Soyuz problem. Everyone agrees that we need an American alternative to the Soyuz, and Congress has even stated that the MPCV will only be a backup for Commercial Crew (it’s in the law).

    SLS and CCDev are in the same NASA budget category, which is “Exploration”, and despite the hand-waving and public angst over the lack of American crew transport to the ISS, Congress doesn’t focus on the near-term problem (CCDev), but on the long-term luxury (SLS).

    Now maybe you’re one of those that says “we can’t trust NewSpace yet”. Considering how much has been spent and how much has been done on COTS and CCDev, so far there is no evidence that they are any less competent than NASA at producing space hardware. And they certainly get a lot more done for the same amount of money.

    If Congress really wanted to solve the Soyuz problem, they could spend more on CCDev, either to accelerate the pace of the program, or to add more “assurance” that successful systems will actually be built. I don’t know what the “assurance” would be, but I’m sure it would involve spending money on “trusted NASA contractors” to “help” the “NewSpace” youngun’s.

    But no, no effort has been made to address the current problem, and all the political pressure is being applied to speed up spending on the SLS, which still has no defined use beyond Apollo 8 style fun trips.

    The situation is pretty clear to me and others. If it’s not to you, oh well, you’re not alone unfortunately.

    My $0.02

  • Daddy

    Rand, you made my point better than I did. Both the FAA and NASA are being compelled to promote commercial space and yet there is insufficient oversight from either of them.

    Boozer, would you like a toke off the bong? “Weird AND twisted”? Just what I was going for….

  • @Bennett:

    Ron, this joker is being intentionally obtuse, and therefore not worth responding to.

    In other words, you’ve got nothing.

    Not only has the CCDev budget been funded below administration requests…

    What the hell are you talking about? FY 2011 PBR called for $500 million in commercial crew and cargo. The 2010 authorization provided up to $612 million. NASA got a continuing resolution which permits them to prioritize as they see fit up to the legal limit.

    …the paltry amount that HAS been funded has built-in constraints relating to SLS contracts.

    Now you’re just making up crap.

  • @Daddy
    Most of my post was in response to:
    “Let’s throw money at commercial space entrepreneurs to flourish on NASA’s turf “
    And my point that what money is really being thrown at is SLS still stands.

    As I said,
    “NASA is paying for only part: of the expense of the systems that those “commercial space entrepreneurs” are developing for NASA. For SLS, NASA (and hence the American taxpayer) is footing the entire bill — a bill that is larger by orders of magnitude than the total NASA has allocated for commercial crew. Also, NASA pays the commercial entities only parts of the development money incrementally as the companies successfully complete predefined goals (including safety goals) specified ahead of time by NASA. If they don’t meet any one of the goals they don’t get paid. Under the cost-plus contracting system for SLS, companies get paid for work whether it successfully gets done or not.”

    Keep your bong.

  • vulture4

    NASA’s continuing resolution essentially prohibits any changes in funding or priorities, forcing NASA to continue pouring money into the black hole / federal jobs program called SLS/Orion for several more years until Congress decides to spend money on something else. I suspect Lori Garver, had she her druthers, would take some of it out of this galactic cash shredding machine and put more of it into various reusable and commercial LEO concepts that might actually go somewhere.

  • vulture4

    Oh, and some of these resources could actually be put into aeronautics and technology development, which might benefit people like us.

  • Rand, you made my point better than I did. Both the FAA and NASA are being compelled to promote commercial space and yet there is insufficient oversight from either of them.

    That’s not the point I made. You need to work on your reading comprehension.

  • @vulture4:

    NASA’s continuing resolution essentially prohibits any changes in funding or priorities, forcing NASA to continue pouring money into the black hole / federal jobs program called SLS/Orion for several more years until Congress decides to spend money on something else.

    That’s not even remotely true. For one, the continuing resolutions passed since the 2010 authorization provide for only a few months funding at a time. Second, the authorization offers no guidance to NASA on how to prioritize its exploration budget.

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “If Congress really wanted to solve the Soyuz problem, they could spend more on CCDev, either to accelerate the pace of the program, or to add more “assurance” that successful systems will actually be built.”

    It goes even beyond this. In the stimulus 400 was requested for CC but only 50 million was given. In the first budget it was 6 billion over 5 years. That also was chopped down to less than 300 million on a one time shot so NASA would have to return to congress and do it year by year. If the President’s orginal plan would have been followed we would already have the Atlas almost completed for human crew, the Delta would be about 1 or so away and SpaceX would be ALOT closer. We would have been close to a test launches in 2012 and flying crewed tests in 2013 quite easily.

  • Vladislaw

    Daddy wrote:

    “Both the FAA and NASA are being compelled to promote commercial space and yet there is insufficient oversight from either of them.”

    Compelled? No, they are government agencies that are given marching orders. They are not some independent organization unconnected to the federal government that can decide their own agenda.

  • Daddy

    “The problem is that if they lack the resources, it may delay issues of licenses, causing schedule slips. The notion that this FAA budget cut is good for commercial space is lunacy.”

    Rand, What part did I mis-comprehend??? I agree that it is “lunacy”…. It is frustrating to agree with someone who doesn’t take it at face value.

    Less budget means insufficient regulation, whether it be insufficient skills, or insufficient response to licensing demand. Time is money in business, hence the pressure will be to regulate to a less strenuous standard in order to encourage commercial space investment. Ultimately there will be a proliferation of failures and the pendulum will swing back

  • vulture4

    @ Prez Cannady

    Granted that NASA can vary some details, if you look at the text of the actual continuing resolution you can see that it sets quite a number of funding constraints and certainly does not give NASA freedom to autonomously set priorities. NASA is also restricted by Authorization acts. I have heard the direction repeatedly over the years that funding levels under a CR, if not otherwise specified, are to remain unchanged.

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-1473

    If you have information which demonstrates that NASA can set its own priorities, under a CR, then by all means provide a reference and let’s look it over.

  • Less budget means insufficient regulation, whether it be insufficient skills, or insufficient response to licensing demand.

    It doesn’t mean that the commercial sector is going to run wild, which is what you implied.

  • Daddy

    Maybe not “run wild”, but stupid is as stupid does…. Burt Ruttan learned that the hard way….

  • Daddy

    Vladislaw,
    “Compelled? No, they are government agencies that are given marching orders. They are not some independent organization unconnected to the federal government that can decide their own agenda.”

    Do you really think the FAA and NASA are thinking for themselves??? They both work for the President. If the President tells them to push for commercial space, they push for commercial space…. Unless, of course, Congress throws in a few monkey wrenches.

  • @vulture4:

    Granted that NASA can vary some details, if you look at the text of the actual continuing resolution you can see that it sets quite a number of funding constraints and certainly does not give NASA freedom to autonomously set priorities.

    NASA gets $3.8 billion for Exploration. $3 billion goes into accounts labeled MPCV and SLS, with vague requirements laid out in PL 111-267. That leaves $800 million for whatever NASA wants to do, and that’s before you get into all the gimmicks regarding what can and can’t be done with MPCV and SLS money.

    NASA is also restricted by Authorization acts.

    Pointed this out already.

    I have heard the direction repeatedly over the years that funding levels under a CR, if not otherwise specified, are to remain unchanged.

    Which is why it’s very important for you to read the bill for yourself.

  • vulture4

    Prez Cannady wrote Which is why it’s very important for you to read the bill for yourself.
    What I read is unfortunately not the issue. Obviously if I had the freedom to allocate the funds differently I would. Even the NASA leadership would like to drop SLS/Orion, and the Obama administration would not be sad to see it go, provided the funds could be reprogrammed.

    They are being prevented from doing this by the language of the law and the will of Congress and its lobbyists. As I said, within the limitations set by Congress, the exact actions can be decided by NASA managers. We are doing very best job we can to accomplish a mission that was poorly chosen, which we know will fail. Cold comfort.

  • @vulture4:

    What I read is unfortunately not the issue.

    At issue is whether or not Congress is impeding NASA procurement of commercial lift. Certainly the appropriations language is relevant.

    Obviously if I had the freedom to allocate the funds differently I would. Even the NASA leadership would like to drop SLS/Orion, and the Obama administration would not be sad to see it go, provided the funds could be reprogrammed.

    If that’s true, then why hasn’t NASA leadership reported out HEFT’s body of work?

    They are being prevented from doing this by the language of the law and the will of Congress and its lobbyists.

    Then it should be easy to point out at least the language of the law purportedly forcing NASA to pursue its RAC-1 option.

  • Rhyolite

    “Do you really think the FAA and NASA are thinking for themselves??? They both work for the President. If the President tells them to push for commercial space, they push for commercial space…. Unless, of course, Congress throws in a few monkey wrenches.”

    I am sure large organizations, like NASA, never develop their own internal agendas that differ from their leadership and funding sources. I am also sure that conflicts never occur within large organizations, like between NASA centers, regarding roles, priorities and implementations. And I am absolutely sure everyone just takes their orders from the top and does what they are told.

  • @Rhyolite:

    I am sure large organizations, like NASA, never develop their own internal agendas that differ from their leadership and funding sources.

    Apparently powerful enough that Bolden and Garver can’t even cut a report loose from that rogue body that recommended SD HLV.

  • vulture4

    NASA does have internal agendas, which would be OK if they were debated openly so the issues could really be addressed. Right now a lot of the internal agenda at the mid and upper levels (as opposed to Bolden and Garver) is in support of Constellation/SLS/Orion. Why this is the case is puzzling to me. The VSE was an intoxicating illusion, a return to the glory days of yesteryear. Helping private companies eke out a profit in the tourist business is dull by comparison. There are a lot of people wuithin NASA who just want to blame somebody else, so they say “It’s above my pay grade.”, which I think is a cop-out. If you can really get them to open up, they say “Obama, SpaceX and the unions are destroying NASA.” I understand how they feel, but they need to be more objective. Those of you that have worked in other fields know the drill. We need to stop complaining, buckle down and turn out some useful work.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ October 2nd, 2011 at 11:46 pm
    “Less budget means insufficient regulation, whether it be insufficient skills, or insufficient response to licensing demand…. It doesn’t mean that the commercial sector is going to run wild, which is what you implied.”

    Apparently you slept through the recent ecobomic collapse, chiefly caused by deregulation and a commercial sector, albeit finance, (which funds aerospace anyway,) that ‘ran wild.’ Of course the commercial sector will ‘run wild’- which is precisely why strong regulation is necessary.

  • @DCSCA:

    Apparently you slept through the recent ecobomic collapse, chiefly caused by deregulation and a commercial sector, albeit finance, (which funds aerospace anyway,) that ‘ran wild.’

    How do you figure?

    Of course the commercial sector will ‘run wild’- which is precisely why strong regulation is necessary.

    Regulation of what? How rockets go up and down?

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Pres Cannady,

    Regulation of crew and vehicle safety systems, flight operations and safety proceedures and maintenance proceedures (not dissimilar to what happens with airlines and their aircraft). Basically, making sure said rockets don’t come down on population centres and that they come down (along with their human cargo) in one piece and with said cargo intact and still breathing.

  • Karen

    Regulations from the FAA office for commercial space would include requirements similar to their FAR part 25 for commercial aircraft, specifying factors of safety, for example, for the spacecraft structure. So yes, in a sense, they would be regulating “how rockets go up and down.” They, in addition to NASA, would define explicitly how the commercial space companies need to demonstrate their products are going to provide an acceptably safe means of transportation, not just for the passengers, but also for the people on the ground in the flight path of the booster.

    In the absence of regulation from the FAA, the commercial spaceflight sector will be using the requirements NASA has published. The FAA and NASA have been working together for a couple of years, and I’m not familiar with all the details of the FAA’s proposed regulations, but it’s likely that the NASA requirements will not cover all of the issues that the FAA would. Anyway, since NASA is probably the anchor tenant of any commercial space transportation system to LEO, maybe it’s alright to have NASA be the only regulating authority.

  • Space Launch System (SLS) is not only a space issue, but a good government issue. SLS is suffocating everything that is actually working in the exploration budget. Moreover, it uses technology that is 40 years old. When the NASA budget takes another shave, and it will, what then? There is even a smaller piece of the the pie for exploration.

    There is simply no reason you cannot explore using the vehicles we currently have on the roster.

    The problem with commercial will not be the lack of regulation, but the over regulation of the sector. We need to make sure the FAA is not like papa bear where the FAA has too much regulation or like mama bear with too little regulation. You want baby bear, just right. I believe Dr. Neild is striving for this. He knows how tough this is going to be.

    There has been a lot of angst here and elsewhere about the NASA Space policy. Our organization has been very busy, and growing, so we decided to have a national teleconference tomorrow night, October 5th, at 8PM EDT.

    It is open to the public and I hope you all will join. The call is toll free. Just dial 877-762-8710 and then press option 3. When prompted, enter the conference code 157483. You will then be entered into the conference. Feel free to share this with everyone you know.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • vulture4 wrote:

    Helping private companies eke out a profit in the tourist business is dull by comparison.

    On the other hand, I’ve met people working in KSC’s commercial programs office and they’re quite enthusiastic about what they’re doing. But then their jobs actually point to the future, not trying to preserve an obsolete “standing army” as Jerry Pournelle recently put it.

  • DCSCA

    @Andrew Gasser wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 12:27 pm
    Space Launch System (SLS) is not only a space issue, but a good government issue.

    This is outside the area of your competence. Probe the postal service and get it up and running before you try tinkering w/aerospace. You tea party goofs would do well to revisit how R&D projects are developed before poking pointed sticks and pitchforks into them.

  • @Ben:

    Regulation of crew and vehicle safety systems, flight operations and safety proceedures and maintenance proceedures (not dissimilar to what happens with airlines and their aircraft). Basically, making sure said rockets don’t come down on population centres and that they come down (along with their human cargo) in one piece and with said cargo intact and still breathing.

    Sounds like a recipe for making things expensive, not making things safe.

  • @Andrew:

    Space Launch System (SLS) is not only a space issue, but a good government issue. SLS is suffocating everything that is actually working in the exploration budget.

    How so? FY 2011 PBR requested $500 million for commercial crew and cargo. The total appropriation after the final CR is $3.8 billion for exploration, with $800 million left over after the nominal SLS expenditure.

  • Regulations from the FAA office for commercial space would include requirements similar to their FAR part 25 for commercial aircraft, specifying factors of safety, for example, for the spacecraft structure. So yes, in a sense, they would be regulating “how rockets go up and down.” They, in addition to NASA, would define explicitly how the commercial space companies need to demonstrate their products are going to provide an acceptably safe means of transportation, not just for the passengers, but also for the people on the ground in the flight path of the booster.

    and

    Basically, making sure said rockets don’t come down on population centres and that they come down (along with their human cargo) in one piece and with said cargo intact and still breathing.

    No, they don’t. They only regulate enough to ensure that uninvolved third-parties are not harmed. They have no regulatory authority over either mission success or occupant safety — whether or not payloads are delivered or passengers come back breathing is not their concern.

    And NASA has no regulatory authority whatsoever. They can specify how a vehicle that carries their personnel is designed and operated, but they cannot tell commercial operators what to do with other customers.

  • red

    “@Andrew:

    Space Launch System (SLS) is not only a space issue, but a good government issue. SLS is suffocating everything that is actually working in the exploration budget.

    How so? FY 2011 PBR requested $500 million for commercial crew and cargo. The total appropriation after the final CR is $3.8 billion for exploration, with $800 million left over after the nominal SLS expenditure.”

    Andrew is correct. $800M is left over for all of the other exploration accounts, not just commercial crew. From the FY 2011 budget request for exploration:

    Exploration Technology and Demonstrations: $652.4M
    Heavy Lift and Propulsion Technology: $559.0M
    Exploration Precursor Robotic Missions: $125.0M
    Human Research: $215.0M
    Commercial Cargo: $312.0M
    Commercial Crew: $500.0M

    All of this had to fit into the $812M left over for other exploration accounts.

    Also consider that the FY2011 figures for these accounts tended to be low compared to the outlook for later years. That’s because at first a big chunk of Exploration money was dedicated to “Constellation Transition”. So, for example, the outlook for the figures for these accounts for FY2012 (as viewed in the FY2011 budget request) was:

    Exploration Technology and Demonstrations: $1,262.4M
    Heavy Lift and Propulsion Technology: $594.0M
    Exploration Precursor Robotic Missions: $506.0M
    Human Research: $215.0M
    Commercial Cargo: $0.0M
    Commercial Crew: $1,400.0M

    That’s when “Constellation Transition” was still taking some money. In later years, Exploration Technology and Demonstrations was over $2B/year, and Robotic Precursor Missions was almost $1B/year.

    In addition, outside the Exploration account, general Space Technology has also taken a huge hit compared to the FY2011 budget outlook. Although not an exploration-specific account, a lot of the work under the Space Technology account would have helped exploration.

  • vulture4

    The FAA has, up to now, regulated spaceflight only to the extent of protecting the general public. However with the advent of commercial flight, that will change.

    Prez: FY 2011 PBR requested $500 million for commercial crew and cargo. The total appropriation after the final CR is $3.8 billion for exploration, with $800 million left over after the nominal SLS expenditure.

    Vult: I agree with Andrew. The Exploration account includes Orion as well as SLS and some other programs, it’s not funds NASA can use for commercial programs. The question remains, is SLS a good investment of tax dollars? The real need in human spaceflight is reduced cost. In an era of trillion dollar deficits, when the public demands further tax cuts, Congress will not fund any meaningful BEO human spaceflight.

  • Andrew is correct.

    No, he’s not.

    $800M is left over for all of the other exploration accounts, not just commercial crew.

    Crew and cargo.

    All of this had to fit into the $812M left over for other exploration accounts.

    Zero out everything except commercial crew and cargo, and you’ve got $200 million left…all of which can be arguably consigned to the SLS/MPCV accounts with a simple re-org. Suffocating my butt.

    Also consider that the FY2011 figures for these accounts tended to be low compared to the outlook for later years.

    Deal with the present, first.

  • The FAA has, up to now, regulated spaceflight only to the extent of protecting the general public. However with the advent of commercial flight, that will change.

    Not before the end of next year, and if the House version of the authorization bill passes, not for years.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Crew and cargo.

    IIRC, NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract is paid for out of the ISS part of the budget, which is Space Operations, not Exploration.

    COTS may have come out of the Exploration budget (not much left anyways), and CCDev certainly is, but once the service is up and running the payment for services for getting crew to the ISS will likely come out of the ISS budget (Space Operations), and not the Exploration part.

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