Two U.S. senators have written to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), seeking clarification on how the agencies are managing delays in their launch and reentry licensing regulations. The letter emphasizes the importance of keeping pace with the demands of commercial spaceflight and addressing the threats posed by American adversaries in space.
Sen. Eric Schmitt, the ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Space and Science Subcommittee, expressed concern about the ongoing delays, stating, “It is no secret that the United States is in a space race with China – our chief economic and military adversary. We cannot be our own worst enemy when it comes to beating China to the moon and Mars.”
Schmitt highlighted the significance of regulatory certainty and clarity, emphasizing that such factors are essential for the nation and the commercial space industry to plan for the future. The senator has consistently advocated for responsible innovation in space and aims to address challenges faced by the U.S. in the rapidly evolving space domain.
Sen. Schmitt, along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, sent the letter to the FAA and AST, seeking information on various aspects, including whether AST has identified additional resources needed to fulfill its public safety responsibilities effectively. The senators also inquired about potential IT systems or automated processes that could enhance the efficiency of licensing reviews.
Specifically, the letter sought details on actions being taken to expedite licensing and environmental reviews, aligning timelines for approving test flights with national policy goals. The senators emphasized the necessity of ensuring that the federal government can keep pace with anticipated increases in operational flight rates for mature vehicle systems, critical for advancing U.S. space endeavors.
The inquiry reflects the senators’ commitment to streamlining regulations and fostering responsible innovation within the U.S. commercial space industry, acknowledging the importance of maintaining a competitive edge in the global space arena.