NASA, FAA Collaborate On Commercial Space Travel - InformationWeek
Healthcare // Analytics
03:06 PM
Connect Directly

NASA, FAA Collaborate On Commercial Space Travel

Space agency increasingly turns to private sector partners for services, so feds seek to ensure safety and minimize overlapping efforts with a new cross-agency agreement.

NASA's Blue Marble: 50 Years Of Earth Imagery
NASA's Blue Marble: 50 Years Of Earth Imagery
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
NASA and the FAA on Monday announced plans to work together on standards for commercial space travel, an attempt to avoid conflict and duplication of effort as private sector companies increasingly transport astronauts into low-Earth orbit and to the International Space Station.

The agencies reached a memorandum of understanding (MOU) based on their common, "interdependent" interests in ensuring that commercial space flights to the ISS are safe and effective. They agreed to share data and information in support of those goals.

The agreement follows last month's launch and return of Space Exploration Technologies' Dragon to the ISS, the first commercial spacecraft to make that roundtrip. A second SpaceX flight to the ISS is scheduled for August, to be followed by a test flight of Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket later this year.

NASA has turned to the private sector to provide transportation services to the ISS, following the retirement of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 after 135 missions over 30 years. More than 60 companies are partners and suppliers to NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

[ Government efforts in space are always changing. Read NASA Cancels GEMS, Readies NuSTAR Telescope. ]

The FAA is responsible for regulating U.S. companies involved in commercial space transportation, and it has licensed 207 commercial launches since 2004. Last month, Virgin Galactic announced that the FAA had issued an experimental launch permit to Scaled Composites for its suborbital spacecraft, SpaceshipTwo, and carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo. In the spring, Virgin Galactic announced that it signed its 500th future passenger, actor Ashton Kutcher.

A report on the commercial space market, published recently by the FAA's Commercial Space Transportation office and the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, forecasts an average of 29.1 commercial launches annually over the next 10 years, with just over half of those being for geosynchronous orbit satellites.

An FAA commercial space license is required for any launch or reentry within the United States, or operations conducted by U.S. companies outside of the U.S. The agency reviews applications for public safety, environmental impact, payload, national security or foreign policy issues, and insurance. The FAA also issues experimental permits for space flight research and development.

The Office of Management and Budget demands that federal agencies tap into a more efficient IT delivery model. The new Shared Services Mandate issue of InformationWeek Government explains how they're doing it. Also in this issue: Uncle Sam should develop an IT savings dashboard that shows the returns on its multibillion-dollar IT investment. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Digital Transformation Myths & Truths
Transformation is on every IT organization's to-do list, but effectively transforming IT means a major shift in technology as well as business models and culture. In this IT Trend Report, we examine some of the misconceptions of digital transformation and look at steps you can take to succeed technically and culturally.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll