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Fri, Apr 28, 2017

Space Companies Urge Senate Committee To Boost FAA Space Funding

Senate Space Subcommittee Hears From Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Others

A hearing held Wednesday by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness  titled “Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space” examined the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act signed into law in November 2015, potential regulatory barriers to address in future legislation, and ways to expand commercial opportunities for American firms in space.

Panelists providing testimony to the subcommittee, chaired by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), included Mr. Robert Bigelow, Founder, Bigelow Aerospace;  Mr. Rob Meyerson, President, Blue Origin; Mr. George Whitesides, CEO, Galactic Ventures, and; Mr. Andrew Rush, CEO, Made in Space.

GeekWire reports that the panel said that one of the best ways legislators could help commercial space companies was to increase funding for the FAA, and specifically the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). The office has a current budget of $20 million, or just a bit more than 0.1 percent of the total $15.9 billion FAA budget.

Commercial operators say they are feeling the pinch caused by the inability of the AST to keep up with the pace of technology. Meyerson (pictured above) said that increasing funding for the office would "allow the office to operate as a responsive and effective agency."

He also said that AST should be more tightly focused on the launch industry, and that AST should be a "single point of regulatory contact" for commercial launches.

Robert Bigelow said that the government should revisit the Outer Space Treaty, citing concerns about China claiming territory on the moon. "It's not something to be cavalier about," he told the subcommittee.

Made in Space CEO Andrew Rush said that congress should make sure that anything manufactured in space is not taxed when it is returned to Earth. 

(Image from U.S. Senate video)

FMI: Original Article 

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