CSF’s Stallmer Slams FAA’s Proposed Commercial Space Regulations

CSF’s Stallmer Slams FAA’s Proposed Commercial Space Regulations

Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) President Eric Stallmer minced no words at a congressional hearing today slamming new proposed regulations for the commercial space transportation industry. The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) is under White House direction to modernize its regulations to be more business-friendly.  FAA released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for comment in April and today Stallmer said the proposals “in some ways are worse than today’s obsolete rules.”

At a hearing before the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Stallmer said the preamble of the NPRM “cites many of the right goals, but the proposed regulations do not deliver on them.”  Specific criticisms are that the 580-page NPRM:

  • is not adequately performance-based as intended,
  • adds burdens and costs,
  • is confusing and relies on missing documents,
  • lacks the flexibility to allow for innovation,
  • is anti-competitive in many ways creating new burdens to entry for users, and
  • attempts to “fix” things that were not broken adding more even more burdens

CSF is a trade association that represents more than 85 member companies and organizations.  Stallmer said all the license applicants among its members want DOT and FAA to engage with industry and release a supplemental NPRM.  “We appreciate the Administration’s eagerness to reform the FAA’s obsolete rules, but we really need to get this right.”

The regulations as written in the NPRM “would definitely set us back” in U.S. leadership in commercial space, he told Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX). The rules are written more for traditional expendable launch vehicles, not innovative designs like capture-carry hybrid reusable vehicles he explained.

President Trump signed Space Policy Directive-2 (SPD-2) in May 2018.  It directed Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to modernize the regulations for the commercial space industry and consider requiring a single license for all types of commercial space flight launch and reentry operations and replacing prescriptive requirements with performance-based criteria.  The proposed regulations were supposed to be released for comment by February 1, 2019, but were delayed to April 15 because of the 35-day government shutdown.

Today’s hearing was broadly on commercial space issues.  Subcommittee chair Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK) said it was intended to be “commercial space 101” to help the subcommittee prioritize issues to focus on in future hearings.  Other witnesses were Bhavya Lal from IDA’s Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI), Carissa Christensen from Bryce Space & Technology, Mike French from the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), and Laura Montgomery, an attorney and law professor at Catholic University.

L-R: Bhayva Lal, STPI; Carissa Christensen, Bryce Space & Technology; Eric Stallmer, CSF; Mike French, AIA; Laura Montgomery, Catholic University. Screenbrag.

SpacePolicyOnline.com live-tweeted the hearing.  Some of our tweets are reproduced below.  Check our Twitter feed @SpcPlcyOnline for more.


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