NASA Regulation of Commercial Space?

Dr. David Livingston referenced the blog of Wayne Hale tonight on The Space Show. Hale referrers to the impending commercial space crew regulations set to enter promulgation next year to certify private spacecraft for NASA astronauts.

Hale states, in part, “NASA has released a draft (dated Oct. 8, 2010) of its requirements CCT-REQ-1130 ISS Crew Transportation and Services Requirements. I’d like for you to read it but it is behind NASA’s IT firewall and you must have an ID and password to access it. I have read it and I’m disappointed. The document runs a mind-numbing 260 pages of densely spaced requirements. Most disappointing, on pages 7 to 11 is a table of 74 additional requirements documents which must be followed, in whole or in part. Taken all together, there are thousands of requirement statements referenced in this document. And for every one NASA will require a potential commercial space flight provider to document, prove, and verify with massive amounts of paperwork and/or electronic forms. This, folks is the old way of doing business. This is one of the major reasons why spaceflight is as costly as it is.”

That said, and it does ring true, where is the FAA/AST?

IF NASA commercial spaceflight regulations become too erroneous or costly, there should be a commercial space astronaut alternative to fulfill a specific mission without a NASA astronaut. In other words, let NASA set the mission criteria and then let the commercial space launch firm and the private sector astronauts achieve it without the regulations associated with flying government paid astronauts.

It really makes no sense whatsoever to have two sets of safety regulations by NASA and the FAA. There should not be a double standard for public and private sector space flyers and yet another for government astronauts. What kind of signal is the federal government sending to the private sector and the public?

What will be even more interesting to determine is if the Russian Soyuz has or will meet the ISS Crew Transportation and Services Requirements. If not, what signal does that send to the American private sector from the space agency?

The federal government should be at least equally concerned with international law and the safety of ‘Envoys of Mankind’ should there be an on-orbit problem from among the human space national programs. Having a different safety standard for American private and government astronauts is nothing more than the envisioned safety dance!

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