FAA Commercial Space Launch Office Another Winner in Omnibus

FAA Commercial Space Launch Office Another Winner in Omnibus

The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) is another government office that did well in the FY2014 omnibus appropriations bill, which was signed into law yesterday.   Not only was its indemnification authority extended, but it got its full budget request.

President Obama signed the bill, officially entitled the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014” but colloquially known as “the omnibus,” into law yesterday, January 17, 2014.  It funds the government through September 30, the end of FY2014.

NASA and NOAA did relatively well overall, and so did AST.   The bill extends the FAA’s authority to indemnify commercial launch services companies against certain amounts of liability from third-party claims (basically claims by members of the general public) in the case of a launch accident for three more years – until  December 2016.   The House wanted only a one year extension, but the Senate passed a bill extending it for three years and the compromise adopted the Senate position. 

Industry prefers that the provision be made permanent, but since 1988 when it first established the authority, Congress has preserved its prerogative to review periodically whether the indemnification authority still is needed.    The original justification for the government agreeing to pay a portion of third-party claims in the event of a commercial launch accident was that the industry was new and it would be prohibitively expensive to purchase insurance.  Twenty five years later, that argument is less compelling.   Industry asserts that the government should continue to indemnify commercial launch companies because other countries do and it puts U.S. companies on a level playing field.

In addition to getting that authority extended for three years instead of one (or none), AST received its full budget request of $16,011,000.

AST sponsors an annual Commercial Space Transportation conference in Washington,  DC.   This year the conference is scheduled for February 5-6 at the National Housing Center, 1201 15th Street, N.W.

AST regulates and facilitates the U.S. commercial launch services industry.

User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com 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.