June 15, 2013

Strangling the Space Industry?

The Economist reports (HT: Instapundit):
The first obstacles facing any astropreneur, in the West at least, are America’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations, known as ITAR. Like guns and tanks, almost all rocket systems and space components require a licence for export. This includes shipping them abroad, but a licence is also needed if components are worked on, or merely shown to, a non-American. Tight ITAR controls on commercial satellite technology are reckoned to have almost halved American satellite manufacturers’ global market share since 1999. Space-tourism firms may even need export licences to carry foreign passengers on sub-orbital spaceplanes. Virgin Galactic, one such firm which hopes to start operations in New Mexico later this year, received an exemption from ITAR by designing its procedures so that passengers do not see what happens behind the scenes. But ITAR seems likely to complicate the company’s long-term plan to launch from a spaceport in Abu Dhabi.
Having believed that low-cost foreign entrants had taken away business, I hadn't realized that ITAR had been that devastating.

The article also mentions insurance.

And regulation:
SpaceX, a company that has already made two successful cargo deliveries to the ISS, is modifying its Dragon spacecraft so that it can carry up to seven astronauts. This means working alongside and ultimately being certified by NASA officials, who are writing regulations literally on the job. SpaceX hopes to launch its first manned mission by 2015. If it does not get airborne before the FAA’s certification exemption expires, whether in 2015 or later, the company may face two sets of regulations. “When the FAA does step in, if they have safety requirements that are completely different from the ones NASA has put forward, then we have a big problem,” says Garrett Reisman, a former astronaut who works for SpaceX.
It's likely that FAA and NASA will start a turf war, so expect a big problem.

Finally, of course, the UN.

Commercialization of space is one of the few things that Obama supposedly was good on. But, to quote Instapundit, consistency is not his strong suit. But, to be fair, no one has ever really demanded it of him.

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