House Committee to Hear About Commercial Space

House Committee to Hear About Commercial Space

The House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing next Thursday, May 5, on the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. George Nield, director of the office, will be one of the witnesses; others have not yet been announced.

Nield’s office is responsible for facilitating and regulating the commercial space launch industry, so is as much in the forefront of the debate over commercial crew as is NASA. Companies wanting to transport people either on suborbital or orbital flights need a license from this office both for launch and reentry.

The office was formally established in the 1984 Commercial Space Transportation Act. That Act and its amendments in 1988 and 2004, and the 1998 Commercial Space Act, set the legal framework for the commercial space launch business. (Link to those laws from our “Space Law” section.) Its activities are authorized by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

The office is somewhat unusual because of its legislated mandate to both facilitate and regulate the industry. Some see those as potentially contradictory responsibilities.

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