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NASA Space Transportation Science

FAA Wants Your Opinion On Commercial Space Rules 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the mandated-double-checking-of-windows dept.
coondoggie writes "If you have an opinion about how you think the commercial space flight world should be regulated, the FAA wants to hear from you. On Thursday, May 26, 2011 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cocoa Beach Oceanfront in Florida it will hold a public hearing where the FAA says it wants to gather information about how to define what it calls a regulatory framework for orbital human spaceflight."
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FAA Wants Your Opinion On Commercial Space Rules

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  • Rule #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somethingwicked (260651) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @04:56PM (#36028650)

    No exploding

    • by SomePgmr (2021234)
      Good rule, I second that. Also, go easy on the medical requirement for participants... if I ever make it into space, I'll probably be old and broken.
      • by syousef (465911)

        Good rule, I second that. Also, go easy on the medical requirement for participants... if I ever make it into space, I'll probably be old and broken.

        And how do you think that body will react to 3-4G?

        Nature rule, Daniel san.

    • No exploding

      Disagree. I'm happy with "No exploding unless you've got enough insurance to clean up whatever the exploded bits land on", and would have no problem compromising on "No exploding over populated areas."

      But as for the appropriate level of safety the FAA should target with its regulations, all I want as a prospective passenger is the same level of safety you get when you do your first tandem skydive. Everyone signs a waiver that says they realize they might not come back alive, but the compa

      • by KhabaLox (1906148)

        If the spacecraft's pilot thinks it's safe enough to fly, then I'll fly with him.

        Doubtless the passengers on Continental Connection Flight 3407 [wsj.com] thought the same thing.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Doubtless the passengers on Continental Connection Flight 3407 [wsj.com] thought the same thing.

          To be fair, I suspect it will be some time before spaceships are being flown by a pilot who doesn't know how to recover from a stall.

          • by KhabaLox (1906148)

            I don't know. The pool of unemployed astronauts will probably dry up pretty quick. The competition to provide cheap space flights will put inexorable pressure on firms to reduce costs, and you will see (eventually) poorly maintained rockets/shuttles, and poorly trained pilots flying on little or no sleep.

      • by Thing 1 (178996)
        Oh cool, PBF comics is back online. (Yeah, I'm likely really late to that party, I remember when they disappeared something less than 5 years ago...)
      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        This kind of risk taking really isn't necessary any more with spaceflight, or almost any new mode of transport. In the early days of flying we didn't know much about things like metal fatigue and the kinds of human errors pilots are prone to. Now we do air travel is extremely safe and new aircraft can be designed and tested to the point where there is no need for all passengers to sign waivers.

        Space is a harsher environment but if you look at modern human spaceflight it has a good safety record. The Shuttle

    • No exploding

      Doesn't this rule out nuclear pulse propulsion?

      Actually, come to think of it, technically I think it may rule out liquid AND solid rocket boosters, since they're basically just a controlled and directed explosion. Gonna have to get a waiver for that.

      • No, they are not controlled, directed explosions. They are sustained combustions just like a gas stove or a welder's torch, but on a much grander scale. Nuclear pulse propulsion will never happen until we need to abandon the planet, or until we're invaded by two trunked elephants.
      • by slick7 (1703596)

        No exploding

        Doesn't this rule out nuclear pulse propulsion?

        Actually, come to think of it, technically I think it may rule out liquid AND solid rocket boosters, since they're basically just a controlled and directed explosion. Gonna have to get a waiver for that.

        Electromagnetic propulsion is the only way, considering all the magnetic fields out there. Surfs Up!

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      I think it should actually be closer to Rule #5. Rules against exploding are overrated, both from a risk and a cost to enforce standpoint. Infringement of personal rights and liberties happens much more frequently than explosions, and I'd rather see their protection protection occupying rules 1-4.

      It's strange that we accept some level of death in ground transportation and recognize that the bigger problems are traffic jams, since a 1 hour delay can easily equate to several man years of lost time, but 1 de

    • Actually, there are existing regulations at NASA such that any rocket that veers off course will self-destruct, because rocket fuel is nasty, powerful, volatile stuff that you don't want near populated areas. So believe it or not, there are mandatory explosives involved in space flight.

    • by BlueStrat (756137)

      No exploding

      That's fine for civilian-crewed/passengered space flights.

      I propose a second "Rule #1" for politicians and government bureaucrats:

      Rule #1 For Politicians/Bureaucrats On Board Commercial/Civilian Space Flights: "All flights must be computer-piloted, and must attain maximum possible velocity just before impacting Washington, DC."

      Win-win.

      Strat

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The no exploding rule is more important than you think. The damage or destruction of satellites, space stations and spacecraft from collision with debris in Earth's and orbit will become a major problem. Just one tiny bolt from a junk heap w/ a high velocity orbiting around the earth colliding with a space ship carrying passengers to the moon/iss/etc is enough to kill everyone on board. Even bigger space-junk will cause a bigger problem.

        Think of the mars-children!

        • by BlueStrat (756137)

          I propose a second "Rule #1" for politicians and government bureaucrats:

          Rule #1 For Politicians/Bureaucrats On Board Commercial/Civilian Space Flights: "All flights must be computer-piloted, and must attain maximum possible velocity just before impacting Washington, DC."

          Win-win.

          The no exploding rule is more important than you think. The damage or destruction of satellites, space stations and spacecraft from collision with debris in Earth's and orbit will become a major problem.

          Well, I agree to the extent that a ship-full of politicians & bureaucrats should not explode until it reaches maximum-effect air-burst height over D.C.

          It should not go wandering around above sub-orbital altitudes, exploding where it'll create garbage. The whole idea was to reduce garbage to start with.

          Think of the mars-children!

          I think that's illegal in "red" states, isn't it? :P

          Strat

          • by slick7 (1703596)

            Rule #1 For Politicians/Bureaucrats On Board Commercial/Civilian Space Flights: "All flights must be computer-piloted, and must attain maximum possible velocity just before impacting Washington, DC."

            Win-win.

            Win-win? More like a good start.

    • No, rule #1 is we don't talk about explosions.

  • The Space Precautionary Act.

    And they need to delay the damn hearing 4 weeks, until there will be, I dunno, *one million plus* people on that coast, for the last Shuttle launch?

    Eeediots.

  • In other words: this is going to be an experimental field for years, and the rules should be 100% on the side of the principle of assumption of risk: you go up there at your own risk, except in cases of reckless negligence on part of the carrier.
    • by jra (5600)

      Ironic that your post immediately followed mine, isn't it? :-)

  • Safety Nazis (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:06PM (#36028810)
    How about they don't regulate it to death. Spaceflight will be a dangerous undertaking for quite some time. If they try to regulate away all the danger they will make it impossible for any advancement to take place.
    (car analogy)If the first cars buit were required to have all the safety features we find on modern cars, we would all still be riding horses.(/car analogy)
    • Sure people are free to take whatever risks they want with their own lives. Regulations are there to stop people taking risks with other people's lives, who don't wish to accept that level of risk.

      • by Wallslide (544078)

        Sure people are free to take whatever risks they want with their own lives. Regulations are there to stop people taking risks with other people's lives, who don't wish to accept that level of risk.

        They're also there to keep desperate and/or ignorant people from being taken advantage of.

  • Space (and travel in it) should really only be regulated by its inhabitants. For people in another place to impose rules on it sounds a lot like an imperial power imposing its laws on a colony - and we all know how well that works.

    Never honk off the people at the top of the gravity well

    • by Narishma (822073)

      That's not what they are talking about. By commercial space they probably mean commercial launches.

    • Right now there's no place to STAY up there. So the colonies don't have anything to worry about...

      I propose several rules for space:
      No manufacturing Giant Robots from Super-Space Alloy
      No dropping things down the gravity well
      Humanoid replicants are not allowed (back) on the planet.
      No searching for xeno-forms after they destroy more than 1 spaceship full of people.
      No Tribbles
      No Bugs

      Yes to latex-painted space suits and anti-gravity boobies.

      • Humanoid replicants are not allowed (back) on the planet.

        Yes to latex-painted space suits and anti-gravity boobies.

        I think this was was the law; hence the blade runners

        we need a subset laws limiting who can wear latex-painted space suits...please.

    • Space (and travel in it) should really only be regulated by its inhabitants.

      That's a very noble slogan - but utterly disconnected from reality. These rules are designed to regulate the craft that will fly over existing populated areas, in the atmosphere - *not* in space. I.E. they represent a danger to bystanders in the same way aircraft do.

      For people in another place to impose rules on it sounds a lot like an imperial power imposing its laws on a colony - and we all know how well that works.

      Histo

  • every bit at uncomfortable, invasive, uncaring and rude as present airline travel, then i say it isnt safe and the terrorists have clearly won.

  • The same rules for civilian and commercial aviation should apply to spaceflight, everything is going to have to be IFR of course, but thats the framework they should work from.

  • Simply require all flights be fully insured (including liability for fallout and orbital debris) and let the insurance industry handle the rules.
    • by lxs (131946)

      Maybe it's time to take down that Ayn Rand poster from your bedroom wall.

  • If you can keep a permanent residence on a celestial body you own a 10km radius around the pressurized areas.

  • They have an administration that is perfectly suited to assume the role of manned and unmanned spaceflight regulation. They have years of experience in the issues affiliated with spaceflight and a tremendous body of knowledge.

    NASA should get out of human spaceflight and become the FAA of commercial manned spaceflight.
  • I suggest (Score:2, Funny)

    by Bai jie (653604)
    X-ray scanning needs to be at least ten times more radiating to get you used to the radiation exposure you'll face in space. Also passengers need to be pat down WHILE being X-rayed. You should also arrive at the spaceport 2 weeks prior to departure. And your luggage should end up on the moon.
  • More explosions.
  • Others have said "no exploding" - I disagree. You should be allowed to explode, provided you do it over your own land or water or don't harm anyone else's property without their consent. Exploding is cool.

    Liability for anything that hits the earth or another space ship or aircraft or ocean-going vessel. You hit it, you bought it + damages. I wouldn't hit a oil tanker. 20 yrs later, when parts come back to earth, there needs to be a liability fund ready to pay out regardless of where the junk hits - Outbac

  • I'd like UN regulation and control of all exploitation of space. If there can't be broad consensus over it should be used commercially, space should just remain unused. We can't afford quarrels over space.

    Besides, until the nations of the world can defend themselves against, say, asteroids that may have their trajectories altered or falling space stations, it is also not at all clever to allow any particularly large or particularly maneuverable commercial venues out there.
    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      Its the United Nations, not the United Solar System.

      Space Stations have already fallen, two militaries (US and China) have shown the capability to shoot down satellites and by extension, shoot and hit a space station. I can think of three other nations (Israel, Japan and the Russian Federation) who likely have the same capabilities, but just haven't tried it.

      • by Radtoo (1646729)
        The united nations is about avoiding disputes over commercial ventures. The UN should actually be the ones that "own" the solar system, because determining who does in the classic military fashion mankind settled such possible disputes in the past would be a very, very bad idea.

        And the only large-ish space station that I know of that even fell even just partially uncontrolled actually hit the ground far from where it was supposed to go (Skylab). The bigger MIR was very carefully de-orbited - still debris
  • by shadowfaxcrx (1736978) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @06:41PM (#36029950)

    to see how they manage to regulate other countries, should they send up space-tourism vehicles. How exactly do you restrict, uh, spacespace? when orbital mechanics dictate that the vehicle can't avoid orbiting over the US?

  • Keep yer bumbling, ineffective, red-tape hands out of our spacelanes. Thanks.

    "You can't take the sky from me...."

    • But NASA has done such a great job of realizing the spaceflight dreams of 40 years ago!

      Elon Musk has decided he's going to retire on Mars. So far, he's on track.

  • by marco.antonio.costa (937534) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @07:12PM (#36030188)

    But an unelected US government bureaucracy doesn't have jurisdiction outside the planet. Sorry.

  • I refer to "Destination Moon" a 1950s movie about the first moon launch. The launch is called off because the equivalent to the EPA at the time says that their rocket can't be allowed to launch because it uses dangerous chemicals and poses a hazard. Of course with a rousing entrepreneurial spirit, the launch is done anyway in spite of the regulators that show up to shut them down.

    As far as I know, the EPA does in fact have to license launches because of the hazardous materials involved. This can certainl

    • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      Have you ever actually looked at what the FAA is wanting to do for commercial space operations? Have you ever talked to the people doing it to figure out their goals? The FAA-AST folks and the NewSpace folks in fact get a long quite well, they're even Facebook friends.

      Pre-emptive regulation where the industry has a main seat at the table is the best weapon right now against over-regulation later. With the current path, the legal regime under which the companies will operate will be well-known and designed

  • Is it me, or does there seem to be a rash of government agencies seeking the help of "people online" to do their job?

    It's clear that they want us to do the work for them and then get no credit or money for it. Well, I'm not some focus group member and they can figure this out themselves. It's not like the Government listens to the average person any more, as it is.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Your post is self-contradictory, FYI.

      "they want us to do the work for them" ... "It's not like the Government listens to the average person"

      Seriously, this knee-jerk anti-government sentiment is getting pretty bad.

      • Seriously, this knee-jerk anti-government sentiment is getting pretty bad.

        getting? You mean it is something new. Hell my Great Grandfather had the same anti-government sentiment.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @07:27PM (#36030346)
    Keep the TSA the hell away from it.
  • Considering what it takes to get on a plane bound for, well, Earth, i can only imagine...

    On site endoscopy?
    • Security? Jesus....Considering what it takes to get on a plane bound for, well, Earth, i can only imagine...
        On site endoscopy?

      Whether you're a believer or believe it's fiction I'm not familiar with a tradition in which Jesus does those, or any security work for that matter. If you want a high profile security officer, try an ex-wrestler or ex-footballer.

  • I would like to be able to rent commercial space and convert it to a residence but current code/regulations/zoning laws will not allow me to do so. Sorry? Did I misunderstand something?
  • Maybe the SEC and the USPTO could take a hint from from the FAA and have public hearings about how we'd like the patent system to work and how we'd like trading things like credit default swaps to be regulated.

    There might be a few other administrations, departments, and bureaus that could do the same.

  • casagenie

  • Even my local corrupt-as-all-heck government has announced we have a crapload of rocket fuel in our drinking water.

    Even if it didn't come from spaceflight (?) it raises the point.

  • The FAA only has legal authority inside US borders, last I checked the US border ends at 100km so irrespective of this power grab the FAA lacks any form of authority to regulate.
  • The US EPA is asking coal power plant operators for their opinions on how they should be regulated, and the US Elite Cyber Commando Troopers are placing posts on black hat forums asking for their opinions on new laws concerning identity theft and money laundering.

  • WHY WHY WHY can't you stop regulating things to death???? I know this is a backdoor method to cut the legs out from under an industry just being born.

    On a related note, I just found out that it would cost me $90,000 to get a helicopter rating. That makes me sad.

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