The flight of the Dragon seems to have had some impact in Congress. House appropriators have decided to provide the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation its full budget request of $16.7 million for FY 2013. The appropriations bill contains a short explanation for the decision.
The Committee recommends $16,700,000 for the office of commercial space transportation, which is equal to the budget request and $429,000 above the fiscal year 2012 enacted level.
The Office of Commercial Space Transportation protects public safety through regulatory oversight of the rapidly growing U.S. commercial space transportation industry. The FAA also has a statutory mandate to encourage, facilitate, and promote commercial space transportation. The commercial space transportation industry is nearly certain to increase its activities providing orbital and suborbital services to serve commercial, scientific, and government purposes. Of particular importance are orbital flights to support the operation of the International Space Station. This increase in commercial space activity will require the FAA to provide a significantly greater number of permits and licenses. The Committee wishes to ensure that the FAA has the ability to provide these permits and licenses effectively and efficiently so that the U.S. can emerge as the world leader in space transport. The Committee will encourage a reprogramming of funds to the Office of Commercial Space Transportation above the levels provided, if necessary to keep pace with this growing industry.