Regulators in Space


First attempt to regulate space tourism passes the House 402-1–Ron Paul is the charmingly predictable one "no" vote. Dana Rohrabacher, the former traveling libertarian troubadour, can't resist selling it as a national security issue, given his representation of an aerospace-tech heavy Southern California:

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., chairman of the Science Committee's space panel and sponsor of the bill, said encouraging private entrepreneurs to develop new space travel technology would have spinoffs for the Pentagon. "Our great space entrepreneurs," he said, "are going to be developing aerospace technologies that can be put into our national security."

More of the details from the Associated Press story on

The House bill, which passed 402-1, gives regulatory authority over human flight to the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

To make it easier for companies to test new types of reusable suborbital rockets, the bill gives the office the authority to issue experimental permits that can be obtained more quickly and with less bureaucracy than licenses.

It also requires the Office of Commercial Space Transportation to come up with regulations for crew pertaining to training and medical conditions. Space tourists would have to be informed of the risks involved in their travel.

The bill also extends for three years an existing law under which commercial space launch companies are required to carry liability insurance, capped at $500 million, with assurances that the government will compensate for losses above that.