Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

Does FAA COMSTAC’s Membership Need to Be Expanded?

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
April 16, 2015

faa_logoI recently sat down with a bag of kettle corn to watch a recording of a recent meeting of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC). As I sat on the edge of my seat in suspense nervously munching away on my popcorn, I realized that there was a voice missing from the proceedings.

COMSTAC was created 31 years ago “to provide information, advice, and recommendations to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on critical matters concerning the U.S. commercial space transportation industry. The economic, technical, and institutional expertise provided by COMSTAC members has been invaluable to our work in developing effective regulations that ensure safety during commercial launch operations and policies that support international competitiveness for the industry.”

So who was there? Space industry representatives. That makes sense. Government officials. OK. Academics. Yeah, you need them. An insurance guy. All right.

But, there was one voice missing. Something had changed since 1984. But what?

Passengers! Ticket holders. The future astronauts/spaceflight participants that will eventually climb aboard SpaceShipTwo, Lynx and other vehicles.

Here are all these things being discussed, debated, recommended and in some cases decided, and yet the folks most affected by some of these issues — whose money is helping fund this new industry — have no say. They have no chance to provide input. Their perspectives are missing.

So, my question to you, my loyal readers, is whether it would make a sense for these ticket holders to form an association and petition for representation on COMSTAC? Do you think that would be appropriate? Would it help or hinder the industry.

Feel free to discuss below. Also vote in the new poll that’s been posted.