Tue. Nov 24th, 2020

The recent progress in regulatory reforms is expected to continue regardless of the U.S. presidential elections’ outcome.  The profitable space sector hopes the reforms will be unaffected if there is a fresh president or a shift in party governance in congress post the elections. The last half a year has seen positive steps in the reforms with the introduction of reviewed commercial remote sensing guidelines, which took place in May, and the restructured launch and certifying guidelines on the 15th of October.

Before the launch of the two sets of regulations, the commercial space industry had been eagerly waiting for the changes as they faulted the current rules with additional costs and intricacy in their operations or even doubted being given license. These cases were evident in the commercial isolated sensing sector. The players complained of difficulties in acquiring new licenses to expand their operations, further hindering the U.S. companies from competing favorably with their global counterparts.

With the new regulations’ publication, NOAA’s Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA) office has changed its licenses to new requirements. The new rules comprise a three-tier approach to an oversight that depends on comparing the licensed systems and what is available globally. During a conference of the Advisory Committee for Commercial Remote Sensing, the executive of CRSRA, Tahara Dawkins, stated that many of the certificates had been designated Tier 1, consisting of very few conditions. The new regulations have seen the time taken to process the licenses to drop from 65 days in 2019 to 43 days in 2020.

According to Wayne Monteith, the FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation, the manuscript that contains the ultimate rule and 785 pages long is a prologue that discusses handling the comments given on a draft rule by FAA. He further noted that the new guidelines are diminutive than the prevailing ones with a margin of around 85 percent.

Eric Stallmer, the outbound president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, called for the need to go on working with Wayne’s group for the takeoff and return streamlining. There is a workshop set on the same on the 14th of November, which the FAA will conduct to go through the proposed new regulations and the best way for the companies to shift from the pre-existing rules to the new ones. Stallmer further stated the need to develop an Article 6 solution that is voluntary in conjunction with the commerce department. The Article provides for the government’s requirement to offer authorization and continuing supervision of activities carried out in the space. 

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