Space Grants Approved, FAA Funding Temporarily Extended

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The FAA will provide four projects with grants as part of the NASA reauthorization bill and a federal effort to ensure the U.S. "remains the world leader in space development and exploration," according to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. The projects will direct funding to the New Mexico Spaceport Authority for automated weather observation; the Alaska Aerospace Corporation for a rocket motor storage facility; the East Kern District in Mojave, Calif., for an emergency response vehicle; and the Hacksonville Airport Authority in Florida to devise a master plan for a spaceport at Cecil Field. The grants range from about $40,000 to nearly $105,000 and are part of the NASA reauthorization bill, which backs commercial crew and cargo programs with $1.6 billion. The FAA's own reauthorization bill was substituted with another three-month extension on Sept. 24 (the 16th, we think ... if you're still counting).

The extension means that a full FAA reauthorization bill will not be up for a vote until December at the earliest, and the House and Senate have yet to reach agreement on particulars of the bill. The last time the House and Senate passed an extension, it was the end of July. At that time, sticking points included passenger facility charge increases and certain handling of airspace near Washington National Airport. New pilot safety requirements were proposed separately in September. That action may remove some public urgency and attention from the full reauthorization bill.