SPACE MISSION AUTHORIZATION: ENABLING THE FINAL FRONTIER

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The U.S. regulatory regime for commercial space missions has been responsible for one of the most dynamic and technologically advanced industries in the world. However, recent investment in the space industry has slowed. This is because the rate of innovation and diversity of recent technologies is outpacing the regulatory regime’s ability to provide industry with optimal predictability.

The current regulatory regime requires firms to navigate a complex web of federal agencies. Companies’ expectations regarding approval rest largely on prior experience, making it difficult to obtain approval for innovative concepts. This lack of predictability leads to hesitancy for potential investors in new and exciting technologies, reducing industry’s ability to translate innovative ideas into fielded capabilities.

The regulatory regime is simply not keeping pace with the rate of commercial space innovation. To address this issue, the United States should consolidate its commercial space mission authorization regime within the Department of Commerce. This consolidation would primarily be procedural, allowing agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission to retain their core responsibilities. The Department of Commerce would be the sole point of contact and final licensing authority for companies conducting space missions. This would provide the benefits of a “one-stop shop” authorization model without removing responsibilities from key regulatory stakeholders.

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  • The current regulatory regime is fragmented, with different agencies responsible for different aspects of space missions. This can make it difficult for companies to navigate the process and understand which agency they need to contact for approval.
  • The current regulatory regime is also slow and bureaucratic. This can delay the launch of space missions and make it difficult for companies to compete with foreign rivals.
  • A consolidated regulatory regime would be more efficient and streamlined. This would make it easier for companies to obtain approval for space missions and would help to boost investment in the space industry.

The Current Regulatory System for Commercial Space Missions is Outdated

The commercial space industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, with new technologies and missions being developed all the time. However, the current regulatory system for commercial space missions is outdated and inefficient. This is stifling innovation and making it difficult for companies to compete in the global market.

The current system is fragmented, with different agencies responsible for different aspects of space missions. This can make it difficult for companies to navigate the process and understand which agency they need to contact for approval. The system is also slow and bureaucratic, which can delay the launch of space missions and make it difficult for companies to compete with foreign rivals.

A recent example of the problems with the current system is the case of SpaceLogistics. SpaceLogistics developed a mission extension vehicle, designed to attach to an aging or damaged satellite and conduct basic repairs. However, when SpaceLogistics approached the government for approval, it was unclear which agency was responsible for regulating this new type of space mission. Eventually, the Federal Communications Commission was given responsibility for regulating mission extension vehicles, but this was only after a lengthy and uncertain process.

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The current system is not sustainable for the long-term growth of the commercial space industry. The industry needs a regulatory system that is efficient, predictable, and flexible enough to accommodate new technologies and missions.

A New Regulatory System for Commercial Space Missions

We propose a new regulatory system for commercial space missions that would be more efficient, predictable, and flexible. This new system would be based on the following principles:

  • One-stop shop: There would be a single agency responsible for regulating all commercial space missions. This would make it easier for companies to navigate the regulatory process and understand who they need to contact for approval.
  • Streamlined process: The regulatory process would be streamlined and efficient. This would reduce the time and cost of getting approval for space missions.
  • Flexibility: The regulatory system would be flexible enough to accommodate new technologies and missions. This would allow the industry to continue to innovate and grow.

The Department of Commerce as the Single Regulatory Agency

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The Department of Commerce is the best suited agency to be the single regulatory agency for commercial space missions. The Department of Commerce has a long history of regulating emerging technologies, and it has the expertise and resources to effectively regulate the commercial space industry.

The Department of Commerce would be responsible for developing and implementing regulations for commercial space missions. The Department would also be responsible for overseeing the regulatory process and ensuring that it is efficient and fair.

Conclusion

The current regulatory system for commercial space missions is outdated and inefficient. This is stifling innovation and making it difficult for companies to compete in the global market. We propose a new regulatory system for commercial space missions that would be more efficient, predictable, and flexible. This new system would be based on the principles of a single regulatory agency, a streamlined process, and flexibility. The Department of Commerce is the best suited agency to be the single regulatory agency for commercial space missions.thumb_upthumb_downtuneshareGoogle it

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