Congress is set to approve a Federal Aviation Administration bill that authorizes a significant increase in spending for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). However, what has brought excitement to astrophysicists and space enthusiasts is the provision on spaceports.
Per SpaceNews, this requires AST to develop a report on spaceport policies, including recommendations on government actions to “support, encourage, promote, and facilitate greater investments in infrastructure at spaceports.”
“The bill creates a category of commercial spaceflight vehicles known as “space support vehicles” that cover parts of launch vehicles systems flying for other purposes, such as training or testing. Such vehicles would include the aircraft used by air-launch systems. The bill allows commercial flights of space support vehicles without the need for a full-fledged airworthiness certificate from the FAA.” – SpaceNews
Renowned astrophysicists, author, and TV host Neil deGrasse Tyson is very excited that the United States is finally getting serious again about space, following the seeming lack of interest by Obama and previous administrations. Many space exploration supporters including Tyson believe this spaceport focus “should have been in progress decades ago”.
Tyson’s most recent book, Accessory to War, The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military is another great read that you won’t want to miss.
Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke to Fox Business News about the spaceport announcement:
In my field, we are overwhelmingly liberal and anti-war. Yet, the entire history of my field goes back to the service of military conquest, hegemony, and empire building. We were the ones who knew how to navigate the night’s sky and how to apply those navigational tools to the earth’s surface, enabling for you to find out what countries you want to conquer or to colonize. There have been astronomers sitting next to explorers right from the beginning.
Just look at GPS, something that started out as a military intended utility has now become a fundamental driver of so many elements of our modern economy from Uber to Tinder. So this relationship is long and deep.
There’s a lot of interesting things going on today with the FAA’s announcement that they want to stimulate and promote spaceports and commercial access to space. That really should have been in progress decades ago. This is important because you need someone to think it through from the beginning so if and when it becomes a thing there has been a lot of intelligent analysis regarding the safety of who’s sending you to space, regarding the safety of who’s down range from whatever is launched, and the safety of your duration in space.
Think of what the FAA has done for us to this day. We have one of the safest aviation records the world has ever seen. You want that to also be true for any activities that occur in space, especially space tourism, which will get you the average person taking these trips rather than just the flyboy macho person who will take the 50 percent risk of dying. You want to turn this into something that people might want to do.
The first trillionaire will be the person who exploits space resources on asteroids, comets, etc…