FAA, US Air Force sign agreement over launch and re-entry procedures for space vehicles

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Air Force have signed an agreement on commercial space activities in Florida and California aimed at streamlining regulatory barriers.

Under the agreement, the FAA will accept the Air Force’s ground safety rules and other safety processes, analyses, and products as long as they satisfy FAA regulations, while the Air Force will accept FAA licensing decisions and generally will not impose its own requirements for the flight aspect of a launch or re-entry.

The agreement recognizes common safety standards that originate or return to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

In 2020, the FAA licensed 39 commercial space launches, the most in agency history. Of those, 24 occurred at the two Space Force stations. As many as 70 launches are forecast to take place in 2021.

“The launch licensing standards provided in the agreement will support a rapidly expanding commercial launch sector and strengthen our space industrial base, bolstering our economy and enhancing our security as a nation,” said Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P Roth in a statement.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said: “Building a streamlined regulatory approach for commercial space activities at these federal launch sites is the right thing to do for public safety and US competitiveness.”

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