House Appropriators Favorable to FAA Commercial Space Office

House Appropriators Favorable to FAA Commercial Space Office

The House Appropriations Committee marked up the FY2013 bill (Transportation-HUD)  that funds the Department of Transportation (DOT) and its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  The committee not only provides the full request for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), but says that it will “encourage” a reprogramming request if more is needed.

AST usually receives scant treatment in the appropriations bill, which funds all of DOT as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).    This year, however, the committee includes a paragraph explaining its decision to fully fund the $16.7 million request for AST and commenting on the importance of what AST does to U.S. leadership in space.

Saying that the commercial space transportation industry is “nearly certain to increase its activities,” especially in support of the International Space Station, the committee states that it “wishes to ensure that the FAA has the ability to provide these permits and licenses effectively and efficiently so that the U.S. can emerge as the world leader in space transport.”  It then adds that it “will encourage a reprogramming of funds” if AST needs more than the $16.7 million “to keep pace with this growing industry.”

That’s good news for AST, though other parts of DOT may wince at the thought at their money potentially being shifted to AST.

Yesterday, the FAA and NASA announced what they called an “historic” agreement on which agency is in charge of what when it comes to commercial human spaceflight.  The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on commercial space issues tomorrow at 10:00 am.


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