Discussions held about establishing commercial space travel standards

20 June 2012


Posted by Satvir Bhullar

A new agreement has been signed regarding the creation of a series of standards for the developing commercial space travel industry.

Talks have been held between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US about how to co-ordinate guidelines for government and non-government astronauts being sent into low-Earth orbit and to the International Space Station.

Under the plans to create a stable framework for the US space industry, bringing together multiple sets of standards into a single series is expected to enhance safety.

The agreement is part of efforts to advance the industry and a memorandum of outstanding has been signed that will permit experience to be shared between NASA and the FAA.

Ray LaHood, US Transportation Secretary, insisted: "Working together, we will assure clear, consistent standards for the industry."

His assertion was supported by NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden, who explained: "We are fostering private sector innovation while maintaining high standards of safety and reliability to re-establish US-crewed access to low-Earth orbit."

Earlier this month, the winners of a competition held as part of the National Space Technology Programme were announced by the UK Space Agency, which is providing £500,000 to further innovations in the sector.

It revealed the ten projects selected for grants are focused on space technology research and development for the next generation of travel, including testing of greener propellants, the creation of radioisotope powers systems, a novel spacecraft thruster and pultruded manufacturing of spacecraft components.

The Future Technology Pathfinder Programme concentrates on investigating technologies new to space and each of the ten selected initiatives has been assessed as having the potential to meet "future operational, commercial or scientific objectives" in the space economy.

David Parker, the UK Space Agency's Director for Technology, Science and Exploration, remarked the successful projects are "marketable, innovative ideas" that are likely to "have an economic impact into the future".

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