Is this a good thing?
Usually, finding out that the FAA plans to limit regulation on anything would be considered a good thing. So when I read today's AP story about legislation signed a year ago by President Bush that severely limits how the FAA regulates the fledgling Commercial Space Travel (CST) industry, I’d have to say YEA, this is cool.
From the AP story: Some other safety-related rules cannot by law be issued for eight years unless specific design features or operating practices are brought into question as a result of an incident causing serious injuries or a fatality.Is it really wise to implement a “wait and see” approach to CST accidents? The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation is taking CST seriously, with everything you would ever need to know about the industry found here. The official FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking PDF can be downloaded here.
One gem from the AP story I found amusing concerns pilot qualifications:
Pilots, meanwhile, must have an FAA pilot certificate and be able to show that they know how to operate the vehicle. Student or sport pilot licenses would not qualify. Duh!This is a tough one. I am a huge Burt Rutan fan, and as the guy out there on the cutting edge of CST, I firmly believe the guy knows what he is doing. But it is not Rutan I am worried about. I’d like to see the FAA keep an eye on JimBob’s Space Tours out in Padukah, the guys who you just KNOW will try to strap a million M-80s to a double-wide so they can attempt to launch a load of dimwits into orbit from the local Wal•Mart parking lot.