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1/12/2006
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No-Fly Database Could Be Used For Space Flights

Terrorists should not be blasted into space--at least not for recreational purposes.

Terrorists should not be blasted into space -- at least not for recreational purposes.

That's according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is drafting rules on space tourism. The proposed rules, in published in the Federal Register in December, outline the U.S. policy on space tourism with an emphasis on security and preparedness.

The draft indicates that private companies offering space flight will be required to institute rules to protect national security and prevent dangerous in-flight situations. Operators could consult the Transportation Security Administration's "no-fly" list, which recently delayed a toddler who was flagged while his mother was trying to take him home from New York after the holidays. Passengers and crew are also likely to be governed by other airline security restrictions barring weapons and explosives.

The draft rules also state that operators must verify that their software and hardware are fullyintegrated for an operational flight environment and undergo tests to prove their safety. Tests would be used to validate analytical tools and models that operators install to predict and respond to potential problems. The levels of testing will be determined by several factors, including the vehicle's components and heritage, if the rules are adopted.

The rules also lay out flight training and medical requirements as waivers of claims against the government.

So far, the Office of Commercial Space Transportation has issued 170 licenses to private groups and individuals to exit the Earth's atmosphere. Virgin Galactic is building a spaceport in New Mexico, and the FAA reports that space tourism could generate $1 billion a year by 2021.

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