Uh-oh!

Someone didn't like seeing the recent events in Mojave involving Burt Rutan, Paul Allen, and Sir Richard. Recent information suggests that the Private Space community might be getting regulated out of existence. There are a lot of suspects, but certain very large aerospace companies (and maybe a government agency?) have the most to gain from this.

This new legislation was supposed to be a codification of what FAA/AST was already doing, that is, "protecting" the uninvolved public. The new amendments include language to "protect" crews and passengers. Here's what Randall Clague, government liaison for XCOR had to say about in an email I received just moments ago:

OK, we're going public.

HR 3752 has been amended in the Senate Commerce Committee to put crew and passenger safety on an equal footing with public safety. This sounds like motherhood and apple pie, but if you think about it for a second or two, you discover that this is a Bad Thing.

If crew and passenger safety were put on an equal footing with public safety, FAA would have no choice but to hold crew and passenger safety to an EC of 30 per mission. If this were only for passenger safety, it would mean that no operator could carry passengers until after he had flown several tens of thousands of consecutive safe missions. That would be financially burdensome, and prohibitive to all but the largest operators, but it is not *obviously* impossible.

But the amended bill also requires the same standard of crew safety. That's impossible. No experimental vehicle is so safe right out of the box that it can fly 33,000 missions without harming its crew. Any flight test program, of any manned air vehicle, poses more risk than that to its crew. This bill would prohibit flight test of manned space vehicles.

Bottom line: HR 3752, as amended, would stop all manned private space flight in the United States.

Someone needs to put a hold on the bill, to prevent it from passing on unanimous consent. You can find your Senator's contact information at www.senate.gov. Call and ask to speak to their space staffer, and let him or her know what's going on. You don't even need to pitch anything; just let them know that these amendments would stop all private manned space flight in the U.S.

-R

Randall Clague
Government Liaison
XCOR Aerospace

(emphasis mine)

What is the Senate bill number? HR is the House number that was passed the house a long time ago. If there are amendments than in needs to go to a joint House-Senate committee. Unfortunately, pulling amendments out then is quite difficult.

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It looks like the Senate

It looks like the Senate version is S.2772, which is currently in committee. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee covers this area, which means that the Senators on that committee would be the most important people to make aware of this issue. Those Senators are McCain (R-AZ, Chairman), Stevens (R-AK), Burns (R-MT), Lott (R-MS), Hutchison (R-TX), Snowe (R-ME), Brownback (R-KS), Smith (R-OR), Fitzgerald (R-IL), Ensign (R-NV), Allen (R-VA), Sununu (R-NH), Hollings (D-SC), Inouye (D-HI), Rockefeller (D-WV), Kerry (D-MA), Breaux (D-LA), Dorgan (D-ND), Wyden (D-OR), Boxer (D-CA), Nelson (D-FL), Cantwell (D-WA), and Lautenberg (D-NJ). Contact information for these Senators can be found at http://commerce.senate.gov/about/membership.html. The bill itself can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:SN02772:, if you have the time to decipher it yourself.

While this would be one of

While this would be one of the worst things our government could do, wouldn't the whole deal pick up and move to Canada or Mexico?

Ben, U.S. citizens must go

Ben, U.S. citizens must go abide by U.S. laws everywhere. I can't pick up and go elswhere. And getting rid of the U.S. citizenship isn't easy either. So if I try launching from say Canada, I have to go through both the Canadian authorities and the U.S. authorities. :mad:

U.S. citizens must go abide

U.S. citizens must go abide by U.S. laws everywhere.

I'm not so sure about that. I believe U.S. laws only apply within the limited geographical jurisdiction, with some exceptions in tax law.

Does someone have a boiler

Does someone have a boiler plate letter drafted? Something to the effect of:

Dear Senator,

SpaceShipOne accomplished an amazing goal this month by winning the Ansari X-Prize for private space flight. I am sure that you were as thrilled as I was ... [voters won't like anti-X-prize legislation in an election year]

Yet I have learned that legislation has been proposed that would severly limit this type of innovation ... [details of bill and quote from above]

[...importance of private enterprise to economy... ...what if the Internet had been hampered by legislation...]

Please vote NO [...call to action...]

Thank you

If someone can fill in the details and fact check, I'll send it off, as will probably a few hundred thousand other technophiles.

Micha is correct. Outside

Micha is correct. Outside the US and its affiliated territories, the US has no jurisdiction to regulate things like space travel, even if it's being done by American citizens. The effect of this regulation wouldn't be to stop space travel, but to chase it and the monstrous amount of business it would do south of the border. Ironically, cutting off this obvious future growth industry is going to hurt tax revenues in the long run.

- Josh