Beyond The X Prize...

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Congress Explores FAA's Role In Space

How will space tourists be assured of safety, without strict federal rules that could stifle the industry's growth? Consensus industry standards are the answer, according to Michael S. Kelly, chairman of the FAA's Reusable Launch Vehicles Working Group. Kelly testified yesterday afternoon before the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee. The hearing addressed the status and future of the U.S. commercial space transportation industry and the role of the FAA in providing safety oversight. The standards, which Kelly compared to voluntary Underwriters Laboratory approval for electronic devices, will assure the public that their spaceflight provider is safe. It's vital that the FAA strike the proper balance of protecting the public without stifling the industry's growth, said U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.). "Our [House Science] Committee is watching this process like a hawk," he said.