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July 23, 2004
NEW PRIVATE SPACEFLIGHT LEGISLATION is ready to move, and it doesn't sound bad:
The bill — known as the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004, or H.R. 3752— lays out the definition of a suborbital space passenger vehicle, solidifies the process for licensing such vehicles, and allows paying passengers to fly into space at their own risk. . . .
The months-long holdup had to do primarily with language defining suborbital space vehicles, which fall under the oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. The definition is considered important because any vehicle that doesn't fit the description might have to go through the far more stringent licensing process for commercial aircraft, which is managed by a different part of the FAA. . . .
In addition, the licensing process would become more streamlined, and for the first time, private companies would be allowed to fly paying passengers into outer space — as long as the would-be passengers signed forms acknowledging that they were flying at their own risk.
I think this is a significant step forward. And as I've written before, I think that space tourism is an essential driver for lowering costs in human spaceflight.