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Uh Oh

More space transition news. This could be a horrific disaster:

Potential Secretary of Transportation: James Oberstar, member of the House of Representatives since 1975.

Oberstar overseeing the FAA would mean safety regulation on the commercial spaceflight industry that would strangle it in the cradle. If they have any influence, Lori, George and Alan need to work as hard as they can to get a different candidate.

[Update early evening]

Clark Lindsey has more thoughts.

[Update a while later]

A commenter suggests that Bill Richardson, who has spent a lot of effort as governor on getting a commercial spaceport in his state, won't be happy about this (at least if he understands the implications). He could be a key leverage point with the incoming administration.

[Late evening update]

Alan Boyle is following up on the story.



MG wrote:

Mr. Simberg,

Since the unregulated financial industry has brought us to ruin, the clear solution is to regulate commercial / tourist spaceflight.

As we all know by know, when all one has is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.


Stewart wrote:

Well, after all, we have to solve all the problems here on Earth before we waste money in space, right? Personal spaceflight is only an indulgence of the greedy rich. Don't forget taking money from NASA and throwing it at "our children's education."

Adam Greenwood wrote:

From the wrath of the congressmen, Lord God, preserve us.

Mark R. Whittington wrote:

So much for the Obama Administration being friendly to commercial space.

Rand Simberg wrote:

I doubt if anyone other than us is even aware of the implications. If he's selected, it certainly won't be for that reason.

Kevin Murphy wrote:

Who would have thought the Obama admin would aim for statist solutions?

Neil H. wrote:

To try to raise awareness of Oberstar's positions I've added some info to Jim Oberstar's wikipedia article to try to document his positions on private spaceflight regulation. Please add to it if you can, although be sure to maintain neutrality and cite sources:

gs wrote:

Oberstar overseeing the FAA would mean safety regulation on the commercial spaceflight industry that would strangle it in the cradle.

A delay would be in the cards, but strangulation? I don't understand. Wouldn't the industry simply move outside the USA?

Afaic it's preferable--important, even--that America lead the way, but it's essential that humanity go. I believe humanity will go even if the USA chooses to fumble the future.

Rand, if you suggest benign and toxic names for Transportation and NASA Admin, I'll send emails to the Obama transition team and to Bill Richardson (in whose state the spaceport is iirc), and to anyone else you might suggest.

KenB wrote:

Oberstar overseeing the FAA would mean safety regulation on the commercial spaceflight industry that would strangle it in the cradle.

Move the industry to Mexico or Chile or wherever they have enough foresight to let you operate. Under the new administration, the US will be missing out on a lot. Civilian space travel is probably the least of it.

Doo Dad Pro wrote:

No worries ... this wouldn't be the end of commercial PASSENGER spaceflight, it would only cause it to be moved off-shore (e.g. China? Aussie? Mexico?).

Jim Bennett wrote:

Uh -- to move existing, US-developed hardware, software, or expertise offshore you need an export permit. Good luck with that.

New people could develop new tourist vehicles offshore using non-US-derived technology, but the existing companies would be screwed.

Brilliant-33-year-old wrote:

The quasi-Oberstar-defenders need to ask themselves why they think the government needs to put its f'ing nose in it to begin with. Why don't you let these rich a-holes spend money on dangerous trips? Because the government knows better? Change my ass.

And FAA regulations follow your citizenship. You would have to setup offshore and have less than 20% of the principles be American. What? Its your company? So sorry, you have to sell 80% of it in order to escape the US regulatory system.

Again, location does not matter. Citizenship is all that matters. Same goes for taxes. Google for "exit tax"...

gs wrote:

Regarding the comments about export permits, exit taxes, and the like:

Hey, I had no idea we were doing so much to secure the borders! ;-(

During the current administration, the government's arrogance and incompetence have grown in tandem. That's unsustainable and, one way or another, it will change. In the worst case, the current financial turmoil is mild compared to our future comeuppance.

NB: I'm an advocate of American exceptionalism, but I decline to go into denial about it. IMO American exceptionalism is an opportunity, not an inevitability.

gs wrote:

Bill Richardson can be contacted here.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on November 6, 2008 11:00 AM.

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