FAA reauthorization bill could add space traffic management to agency work – Space News

A bill introduced in the House to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration includes a provision directing the agency to get involved in space traffic management, potentially duplicating ongoing work at the Commerce Department, says a report published by Space News.

The FAA reauthorization bill introduced by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week includes a section, 600 pages into a 773-page bill, is intended to address risks from orbital debris re-entering and passing through airspace, says Space News.

For more than 10 years the International Association for Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) has been voicing concern about the risk that uncontrolled reentering space systems pose to aviation, posts the association. Partial demise does not help because tiny surviving fragments can be lethal when impacting an airplane at cruise speed. Recognizing the threat, and that Space Traffic Management includes launch and re-entry operations, is a major step forward of a new bill being introduced in the US.

According to the article:

“The bill instructs the FAA to establish a program to track objects “that are potential sources of covered airborne debris” with a focus on identifying those about to reenter and could pose a risk to aircraft in airspace. That program would coordinate with the FAA’s air traffic control system to identify airspace that needs to be closed for a reentry.

“It would allow the FAA to establish its own space situational awareness (SSA) facilities and work with other federal agencies, companies or international organizations for data on such objects.

“While the focus of the bill is tracking debris to assess airspace risks, the bill does enable additional uses of the data the FAA collects. In particular, it directs the FAA to offer “a basic level of data, information, and services” at no charge. That includes maintaining a public catalog of space objects and “emergency conjunction notifications” of such objects.

That would appear to duplicate at some level what the Commerce Department is currently developing to handle civil space traffic management responsibilities assigned to it under Space Policy Directive (SPD) 3 in June 2018. The department’s Office of Space Commerce is developing the Traffic Coordination System for Space, or TraCSS, that will use SSA data from multiple sources and provide basic services, like conjunction warnings, free of charge,” says Space News.

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