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« Fifth Columnist Fired | Main | The Proper ITAR Focus »

New Industry Association

Mike Kelly is announcing the formation of a new association to promote personal spaceflight, called (creatively enough) the Personal Spaceflight Federation.

Will represent the personal spaceflight industry--companies that will provide human spaceflight under the regulatory auspices of the FAA. Includes developers, operators, marketers, resellers, spaceports, and commercial space destinations.

Challenges for the industry:

  • Safety
  • Regulations
    • overly burdensome
    • Chaotic/Inconsistent
  • Public Perception
  • Long-Term Challenges

Purpose is to present a unified front on critical issues, such as FAA rules and environmental issues, industry standards, coordination of lobbying efforts, public relations, research, pool resources and expertise to deal with common issues, establish partnerships. There will be bi-yearly meetings of principals (assuming this means semi-annual, e.g., twice a year).

Non-profit 501(c)6 (Trade Association) in California with board of directors, chaired by Mike Kelly and staffed by John Gedmark. It is financed by membership fees. First official act was to produce consensus comments on the recent FAA-AST NPRM on human spaceflight participants. Managed to come up with unanimous set of comments (seventeen pages), which presumably the FAA will take seriously. One major issue was the nature and definition of "informed consent." Another was potential for foreign passengers to be excluded due to ITAR issues. Another was definition of "crew." They wanted to make a distinction between "safety-critical" and "non-safety-critical" crew (e.g., pilots versus people gathering data, such as the NASA equivalent of "mission specialists").

Next area to be tacked is set of voluntary industry standards, once technology is mature enough to warrant them. This will provide better liability protection, since neither the developer or the FAA will be liable if they follow the industry standard. Use of AIAA seen as key here. Care has to be taken here--bad standards can cause as much harm as bad regulation. Premature to establish them now, because standards represent best practices, and industry is too immature to know what those are. Fortunately, it will take a while for them to evolve.

Future activities: Develop consensus document on NPRM on reusable expendables, continue research on liability waivers for passenger spaceflight, continue research on standards development, and develop ITAR strategy.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 22, 2006 12:35 PM
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