DOT Announces Reform of Launch & Reentry Licensing Requirements

WASHINGTON (DOT PR) – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today announced the publication of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Streamlined Launch and Reentry Licensing Requirements Final Rule (PDF) for commercial space transportation  launches and reentries.

“This historic, comprehensive update to commercial space launch and reentry licensing requirements facilitates greater growth in this industry and helps America to maintain our #1 position in the world,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

This rule modernizes the way FAA regulates and licenses commercial space operations and allows the burgeoning aerospace industry to continue to innovate and grow, while maintaining public safety. 

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Fact Sheet – FAA Streamlined Launch and Reentry Licensing Requirements (SLR2) Rule

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new streamlined launch and reentry rule (PDF) that replaces prescriptive requirements with performance-based criteria. The new rule — SLR2 — allows launch and reentry vehicle operators to focus on innovation as it replaces cumbersome, prescriptive requirements with flexible, performance-based criteria.

Under the President’s Space Policy Directive-2 (SPD-2), the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) is consolidating and revising multiple regulatory parts and applying a single set of licensing and safety regulations across several types of operations and vehicles. The new rule requires a single license for all types of commercial space flight launch and reentry operations, and increases flexibility for launch and reentry vehicle operators.

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Failure of Aging Satellites Could Leave U.S. Partially Blind to Space Weather

Diagram of DSCOVR spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Tne failures of three aging satellites the United States relies upon to forecast space weather could leave the nation partially blind to electromagnetic storms that could severely disrupt electrical grids, communications systems, aviation and Global Positioning System (GPS) dependent navigation.

“The observations that we rely on to provide alerts and warnings are critical. Should we lose some of the key spacecraft that we talk about, I won’t say we’re blind but we’re darn close. It will impact our ability to support this nation’s need for space weather services. And I don’t want to see that happen,” said William Murtagh, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

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Space Florida Gets $90 Million Grant to Replace Bridge, Road Improvements

EXPLORATION PARK, Fla. (Space Florida PR) – Space Florida is moving forward on a $90 million infrastructure improvement grant recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The grant will support three interrelated projects, including replacing the aging SR 405 bridge over the Indian River Lagoon, widening Space Commerce Way, and revitalizing a 3.7-mile stretch of NASA Parkway West. The project is expected to take approximately five years to complete.

With the award in place, Space Florida and its partners from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center can now move forward with the project. The grant, which is part of DOT’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America INFRA) program, will support growing aerospace industry and launch activities at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The current bridge will be replaced with two new high-span bridges, and the widening of the roadways will facilitate launch traffic, simplify transport of oversized launch hardware, and improve access for visitors.

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Bay Area Transit Chief Could Become Transportation Secretary

Bay Area transportation chief Heminger said to be atop short list for transportation secretary

San Jose Mercury News

“Steve Heminger, head of the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, is reportedly at or near the top of the list of finalists to be transportation secretary in the Barack Obama administration. Heminger, whose name has been in circulation for a few weeks on unofficial lists of Cabinet contenders, now is reportedly ‘in the rail position for the job,’ according to a column in Friday’s Washington Post.

“A spokesman for the MTC said Heminger is refusing to talk about the speculation and would not confirm the Post’s report that he has met with Obama.

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Obama Transition Update: Richardson Finalist to Lead State

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson – a leading force behind Spaceport America – is a finalist to become the new Secretary of State, according to numerous published reports. President-elect Barack Obama is also considering Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the position.

Meanwhile, transition teams are busy at work preparing for new leadership at NASA and the Department of Transportation, which includes the Federal Aviation Administration.

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Oberstar at DOT Raises Heckles with NewSpace Supporters, Prospects for Regulation

Speculation that Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota could become the next Secretary of Transportation has sent a chill running up and down the carbon composite spines of space tourism advocates. MSNBC‘s Alan Boyle has a nice summary at Cosmic Log:

“The idea that Oberstar might play a role in commercial space transportation has sparked concern on the part of New Space proponents such as Transterrestrial Musings’ Rand Simberg and Clark Lindsey over at RLV and Space Transport News.

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