...As Government Tries To Keep Up
Whether regulatory agencies can keep up to the light-speed pace of commercial space development is another question. In a statement that may have the Wright Brothers rolling over in their graves, FAA spokesman Hank Price told AVweb that his agency needs Congress to give it the authority to regulate passenger flights to space but that appropriate legislation doesn't exist yet. A bill to regulate passenger flights has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is before the Senate but there's no word on how long it might take to become law. Price said the intent of the proposed law is to ensure that those taking the flights assume all the risk themselves. Price likened space flight to other hazardous activities like mountain-climbing, where individuals are permitted to pursue their passion in the face of recognized danger as long as they are fully aware of the risks and accept them. He said the test flights currently underway are within the FAA's existing mandate because functioning crew members are considered a "critical flight safety system." No word was available on how the FAA may view passengers.