Should the industry take a page from the book of maritime law, and self regulate?
Classification Societies originated in the 18th and 19th centuries at the initiative of English ship insurers. Their purpose is to serve the public interest and the needs of their clients by promoting the security of life, property and the natural environment.1 They are impartial organizations consisting of technical experts that have established a system of public safety based on private law contracts. They are often described as the unofficial “policemen” in the marine world. Classification Societies enter into contracts primarily with ship owners and shipyards, which enable them to determine and control whether a ship conforms to their rules. Although Classification Societies do have economic interests, these interests are not the primary reason for their existence. Because of this, they often take the form of non-profit corporations.2
Classification Societies set the standards for the design, construction, and maintenance of maritime vessels. They accomplish this through rules and standards formulated through a committee process. In developing these rules, a Classification Society’s staff relies upon prudent marine engineering principles, theoretical research, and experience.
This is something that the Commercial Spaceflight Federation should be considering.