DOT Requests Big Boost for Commercial Space Transportation in FY2020

DOT Requests Big Boost for Commercial Space Transportation in FY2020

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is requesting a total of $64.6 million for commercial space transportation activities in FY2020.  That is a significant boost from its FY2019 level of $36.5 million including all three budget line items that comprise DOT’s support for commercial space launch and reentry activities.  The biggest increase is for integrating commercial space transportation into the National Airspace System (NAS) to reduce disruption to other airspace users.

The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) is the best known part of DOT’s budget for implementing its commercial space transportation functions.  AST regulates, facilitates and promotes commercial space launches and reentries.  It is funded as part of the FAA’s Operations budget.

Two other parts of the FAA budget also support commercial space transportation, however.

AST has a separate budget line item for its Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation that performs safety research.  That is in the Research, Engineering and Development (RE&D) budget.

Within the Facilities and Equipment (F&E) budget, the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) is developing a Space Data Integrator tool that will enable the FAA to safely reduce the amount of airspace that must be closed to other users, release airspace that is no longer at risk as a mission progresses, and build the foundation for integrating commercial space operations into the airspace.

For FY2019, Congress appropriated a total of $36.449 million for those three items:

  • $24.949 million for AST operations, a $3 million increase above the request;
  • $9.0 million for commercial space integration in F&E, an increase of $2 million above the request; and
  • $2.5 million in RE&D for the Center of Excellence, the same amount as requested.

According to DOT’s FY2020 budget highlights book released today, the FY2020 request is about the same for AST’s operations, but significantly higher for the other two categories, primarily to support integration of commercial space transportation into the NAS.  The request comprises:

  • $25.6 million for AST operations, including $2 million to speed the processing of licenses and approvals, streamline regulatory requirements, and keep pace with industry demands for products and services;
  • $33 million for development of the Space Data Integrator; and
  • $6 million for AST’s Center of Excellence to support integration of launch and reentry into the NAS, advanced safety assessment methods, advanced vehicle safety methodologies, and human spaceflight safety.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.