Acting FAA Administrator Daniel K. Elwell discussed the increase in space activity in remarks yesterday at the FAA’s annual Commercial Space Conference in Washington, D.C.
The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation produced the document, which contains three primary parts. The first part provides a narrative detail about the space transportation industry, covering topics such as launch vehicles, payloads, and launch and re-entry sites. The second part summarizes worldwide space activities during the previous year and integrates that information with activities that have taken place the last five years. The third part covers policies and regulations relevant to commercial space transportation.
Some noteworthy items in the compendium include:
- Recognition that the U.S. space industry has begun to make inroads into the existing share of commercial launches now conducted by the Russians.
- China has made notable increases in government space activity.
- Suborbital vehicles slated for passenger activity popularly known as “space tourism” had significant activities in 2016, including several test flights of space vehicles.
For many decades, governments have dominated and primarily conducted space travel. That changed in the mid-1980s with the creation of the Office of Commercial Space Transportation under the Department of Transportation. The office is now located at the FAA with the mission of ensuring the protection of the public, property, and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States during commercial rocket launches and space vehicle re-entries. Since 1989, it has licensed more than 300 operations and launch sites.