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Congress Plans Space Tourism Regulation

michael posted about 10 years ago | from the long-arm-reaches-outer-space dept.

United States 494

ackthpt writes "No new venture seems to escape some regulation, as is the case with the budding space tourism industry. As I piloted my personal groundcraft through pea-soup fog this morning (observing about half the others driving with lights off) CNN News mentioned impending regulation and legislation is on the way to govern commercial space transportation. Among concerns are safety of uninvolved public (to ensure boosters or other launch vehicle parts don't land on the unsuspecting public), assessing risk to passengers and level of fitness necessary to withstand the forces and conditions of spaceflight. Addressing such concerns are the FAA's office of commercial space transportation and the Commerce Department's Office of Space Commercialization and of course the US Congress."

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And just like that, (2, Insightful)

krog (25663) | about 10 years ago | (#10462059)

a wet blanket is thrown onto a gathering fire.

I wonder how Congress will misregulate this industry (at least until it becomes rich enough to hire lobbyists).

Re:And just like that, (4, Informative)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about 10 years ago | (#10462118)

Umm, CFR 14 (Code of Federal Regulations Part 14 - aka the Federal Aviation Regulations) Chapter III has been around for quite a while. Nothing new to see here, folks.

Re:And just like that, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462164)

Section 1) No person shall launch politicians into space without their express permission

Re:And just like that, (5, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | about 10 years ago | (#10462179)

Yeah... I mean, heaven forbid we try and stop people from dumping boosters on people's houses, or launching people on 6G-accel rockets with a 90% chance of killing their passengers without telling them of the risks.

This is common sense stuff. Just because you hear the word "regulation" doesn't mean it's time to freak out. I'm thankful as hell that the airlines are regulated.

Re:And just like that, (5, Funny)

drakaan (688386) | about 10 years ago | (#10462232)

You, sir, are not sufficiently paranoid.

Re:And just like that, (4, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | about 10 years ago | (#10462305)

> Yeah... I mean, heaven forbid we try and stop people from dumping boosters on people's houses, or launching people on 6G-accel rockets with a 90% chance of killing their passengers without telling them of the risks.
> This is common sense stuff. Just because you hear the word "regulation" doesn't mean it's time to freak out. I'm thankful as hell that the airlines are regulated.

If you drop a booster on my house, I'll sue you into the stone age.

If your 6G rocket kills 90% of its passengers, and my 5G rocket kills 5% of its passengers, people will figure out the risks for themselves, and choose to fly on my rockets rather than yours, at least until you redesign your rocket to be safer than mine.

There's a happy medium, but ultimately, this is also common sense stuff.

Congress, you govern a very large economy. Can't you leave this little piece of it alone? Surely there must be something left that you can fuck up for lobbyist dollars than space tourism. Is the well of freedom truly that dry that you have to wipe out private space tourism when it's less than 72 hours old?

Re:And just like that, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462346)

Oh yeah. Good come back.

So what about those people who die on the 6G rocket? Fuck 'em? They shoulda known better?

How you going to sue if that booster hits your house and kills you?

Do you even want to bother with having to sue because rocket boosters keep falling out of the sky and landing in your neighborhood?

Re:And just like that, (1)

ajrs (186276) | about 10 years ago | (#10462188)

gathering fire? I'd rather have a fire gathering near my house put out than rage uncontrolably. Maybe just this once a little premtive regulation is a good idea.

Re:And just like that, (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 10 years ago | (#10462196)

I wonder how Congress will misregulate this industry

Hmm. Let's quote from the submission:

Among concerns are safety of uninvolved public (to ensure boosters or other launch vehicle parts don't land on the unsuspecting public

Fucking communist bastards! Looking to stifle innovation! I say we round up all the liberal-weenies (obviously patriotic god-fearing Republicans don't care about large rocket boosters falling into their backyard) and send them to Gitmo for even daring to mess with the free market.

Geesh! Some things are overregulated. But I think Congress has a legitimate interest in insuring that this industry is a safe one.

Re:And just like that, (1)

drakaan (688386) | about 10 years ago | (#10462359)

Yeah...and I'm *sure* that safety regulations will be the only type of regulations they put in place...

Freedom as in Free Software (1)

Commander Trollco (791924) | about 10 years ago | (#10462236)

And if the new vehicles will be using free software?
No, seriously folks. How do we expect to progress as humanity unless every aspect of our large scientific projects become open and shared? Space exploration is going to stagnate unless they start using open technologies.

Re:And just like that, (4, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | about 10 years ago | (#10462313)

I was at the XPrize launch, and they made some comments about this. I was only half listening, but the impression I got was that they (Scaled, Xprize, etc) were in favor of this.

There are legitimate concerns surrounding space travel, and some regulation is needed to address those. Given this, potential investors are reluctant to invest their money when they know that some sort of regulations will exist, but do not know what they will be or how they will effect the ventures they are funding. Burt Rutan has been working with the FAA and OSC from day one and they have been very supportive of his effort. He is wants to get get these regulations out on the table and nailed down as soon as possible, so that the transition from experimental space flight to commercial space flight can begin.

Regulation For Presidents Who Hijack?: +1, True (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462317)

the Constitution of the United States of America:

(ie. "President" George W. Bush [] ) in the name of craporate profit.

Jurisdiction (3, Insightful)

razmaspaz (568034) | about 10 years ago | (#10462062)

What jurisdiction does Congress have in Space? Any? I can see how regulating our airspace is their jurisdiction, but our space?

Re:Jurisdiction (1, Informative)

nharmon (97591) | about 10 years ago | (#10462097)

I believe there are treaties against regulating space. Which means Congress should be careful, any overregulation will result in the operations moving out of the country.

Re:Jurisdiction (4, Insightful)

krog (25663) | about 10 years ago | (#10462103)

If you want to launch from America, you deal with the American Government.

I'm sure plenty of companies will base themselves elsewhere for precisely this reason.

Re:Jurisdiction (1)

Rei (128717) | about 10 years ago | (#10462215)

As if other countries are going to like having boosters dumped on their peoples' houses and the like.

Besides, as to what right the US government has: It has the right to control it's own airspace. If you can get to space, from the US, without going through US airspace, be my guest ;)

Re:Jurisdiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462115)

I dont think its so much that they have jurisdiction in space as it is they have jurisdiction over space crap falling on the heads of citizens.

Can you say frozen ball of blue space ship exrement?

Re:Jurisdiction (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 10 years ago | (#10462141)

To get to "Space", you have to launch, presumably from this country, and have to fly through airspace, over this country. All easily under the jurisdiction of Congress.

Once you're up there, it's a different story (international rules, perhaps). But get there first.

Re:Jurisdiction (4, Insightful)

compass46 (259596) | about 10 years ago | (#10462145)

If you are launching from US soil through US airspace to reach space... Yes, they have jurisdiction over your launch site and path taken to reaching space which they may then use to regulate various things related to your travel.

Re:Jurisdiction (1)

bs_02_06_02 (670476) | about 10 years ago | (#10462147)

You'll need a permit to take off, and a permit to land. You'll probably have to pay through the ass to do it too.

Anyone want to donate an island for space travel? At least for launches?

We could go to Mexico for cheap space travel? I imagine the Mexican government would love the added tourism and influx of cash.

Re:Jurisdiction (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 10 years ago | (#10462224)

Anyone want to donate an island for space travel? At least for launches?

You mean like Tracey Island []

Re:Jurisdiction (4, Interesting)

sys$manager (25156) | about 10 years ago | (#10462280)

Or you could do what Sea Launch [] does.

Re:Jurisdiction (5, Insightful)

the_weasel (323320) | about 10 years ago | (#10462165)

Your insane right?

If you plan to launch a commercial space tourism effort from this country, of course it needs regulation. Would you prefer if any moron could claim to have a rocket and start tossing people up into space?

Would you care when one of those morons built a rocket that came apart, killing everyone on board and raining down debris? You would certainly complain bitterly if it was one of your family on board, or if it was your house that was hit by debris.

Your local travel agencty is subject to regulation to prevent the worst of the scammers from coming into/staying into existence. Airflight is regulated tightly to ensure travel is safe for those who fly as well as those on the ground.

What made you think launching a ship of some sort into space would be subject to less regulation? If ytou plan to launch from N. American airspace, or operate your business from N. America, expect to be regulated.

Regulation can be stifling - but it can also be necessary.

Re:Jurisdiction (1, Insightful)

Your_Mom (94238) | about 10 years ago | (#10462250)

Funny you should mention that, I was going through records back in 1910 and there was a congressional speech along the same lines.I quote:

"Your(sic) insane right?

If you plan to launch a commerical airline tourism effort from theis country, of course it needs regulation. Would you prefer if any moron could claim to have a rocket and start tossing people up into the air?

Would you care when one of those morons built a airplane that came apart, killing everyone on board and raining down debris? You would certainly complain bitterly if it was one of your family on board, or if it was your house that was hit by debris.

Your local travel agencty(sic) is subject to regulation to prevent the worst of the scammers from coming into/staying into existence. Railroad travel is regulated tightly to ensure travel is safe for those who travel as well as those are near the tracks.

What made you think launching a ship of some sort into the air would be subject to less regulation? If ytou(sic) plan to launch from N. American airspace, or operate your business from N. America, expect to be regulated."

All I can say thank God it didn't happen else we'd still be traveling on trains. *phew*

Re:Jurisdiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462278)

WTF do you think the FAA is?

Re:Jurisdiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462343)

How is this insightful? He quotes the poster's message, not the 1910 congressional speech.

Re:Jurisdiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462171)

Too right - the US doesn't rule space, they can fuck off!

Re:Jurisdiction (3, Insightful)

Random Web Developer (776291) | about 10 years ago | (#10462189)

what jurisdiction does Congress have in the world?

just launch from europe of russia or something and no Congress laws apply

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462065)


And of course... (0)

jav1231 (539129) | about 10 years ago | (#10462068)


Awesome (-1, Offtopic)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | about 10 years ago | (#10462069)

I was just looking around the net for the best Solar Powered Water Purifier. This electricity solar/wind power stuff is the future. It also helps 3rd world countries develop who can't afford the fuel or clean water.

Anyone know the best way to purify water using the sun?

God spoke with me:

Re:Awesome (1, Offtopic)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 10 years ago | (#10462197)

Seems to me a simple distillery would be the best, with a solar concentrator to raise the water above boiling point. Why bother with the intermediate stage of electricity when a flask at the focal point of a concave mirror with a collection device on top of it would do just as well?

Alternatively- I seem to remember that Israel uses a system like this to get fresh water from the Dead Sea- theirs were long channels of shallow water drawn from the ocean, with a mirrored surface underneath and a half-cylinder on top to capture and recondense the steap, with half pipes down each side to collect the water.

BTW- I thought God only spoke to George W. Bush....

this fits in nicely (1)

aLe-ph-1(sh) (813349) | about 10 years ago | (#10462075)

with the plans to build a system to shootdown space traffic if need be. A previous article on /. talked all about this... So, are we trying to be THE FORCE? eeek

Be sure to sign NDA's (1)

Trigun (685027) | about 10 years ago | (#10462081)

So that you can't report the position of the MLB's mind control satellite!

Re:Be sure to sign NDA's (1)

Braingoo (771241) | about 10 years ago | (#10462220)

I would but i cant kick my focusin habbit!

If it can be regulated or taxed, they will come (2, Insightful)

Flounder (42112) | about 10 years ago | (#10462085)

And who's gonna bet that they'll require all private space flights be cleared through NASA, FAA, Homeland Defense, FBI, IRS, EPA, and DOJ?

Commercial ventures are rendering a government agency irrelevant. Bureaucrats exist only to propagate themselves and ensure their job security. Back them into a corner, and they fight like pissed cats.

Maybe not all of them (3, Insightful)

stomv (80392) | about 10 years ago | (#10462233)

1. But I would want an aero agency (FAA, NASA, whatever) to regulate them while they're at risk of flying into something else, either in the Earth's atmosphere or outside of it. Wouldn't you?

2. I'd also want regulations providing for insurance for third parties. If my house gets hit by a piece of RichGuysTourSpace LLC, I'd like it repaired please.

3. Law enforcement? Absolutely. Merely being a passenger in a space-bound vehicle should require at least as much security as is forced upon the airlines. ID, bomb detection, etc.

4. EPA? In the same sense that other vehicles (like airplanes and cruise ships) are monitored, yup. Don't go dumping excessive toxicities in the environment please.

5. IRS? Only in the sense that all businesses gotta pay their fair share of taxes.

It turns out that requiring (2) might force (1) and (3) a la the free market. After all, I'd expect a lower risk of loss if the flight plan was cross-checked, and if the passengers were safe. (4) and (5) wouldn't be treated any differently than other similar industries. Surely, it's the job of Congress to at least investigate the possible problems before the happen though...

Not quite accurate (1)

LordZardoz (155141) | about 10 years ago | (#10462322)

While the typical hatred directed towards bureaucracies is often warrented, no one creates a bureaucracy for shits and giggles. Regulation is needed to keep commercial intrests honest.

Screwing over the citizens of a given country is the sole domain of the government of that country. New tech means that a new way to screw people over may have been created. So of course the Government is going to want to stay on top of it. They will figure out which agency should keep track of commercial space flight, and parcel it off to them. So you will not need to file a flight plan with 15 different agencies. Just one.

Would you prefer that the government kept its blinders on and did not update its laws to account for new tech?

I will concede, however, that bureaucrats usually do not serve their intended purpose as well as they ought to.


Booster rockets? (1)

grunt107 (739510) | about 10 years ago | (#10462088)

I would hope public space tourism would use re-entrant vehicles that did not spew parts as they fly. Better for the environment, and it should be more economical as well.

Re:Booster rockets? (2, Informative)

bs_02_06_02 (670476) | about 10 years ago | (#10462199)

Booster rockets were mentioned by Burt Rutan for use on his spacecraft in future iterations if they ever wanted to reach higher orbit.

Personally, I think Congress is woefully inept when it comes to "regulating" new technology.

Thank God we have the Guvmint! (2, Insightful)

Lurkingrue (521019) | about 10 years ago | (#10462089)

Thank heavens we have a government that is taking rapid action to protect us from ourselves! So what if progress is impeded, or if this bolsters a poorly-run, short-sighted government space monopoly... At least we're SAFER this way. I mean, after all, someone needs to think of the children!

I think Franklin was right about the whole "liberty for security" tradeoff. Unfortunately, the US has become the land of Sheep.

Re:Thank God we have the Guvmint! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462181)

Maybe so, but some of us are wolves in sheeps clothing.

Taxes too! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462090)

It's clear to me that this has nothing to do with safety or any other reason. The US Congress wants to tax the SHIT out of this, and nothing more. I'm sure the lefties will want to hire some more gov't bureaucrats to do absolutely nothing but waste space and issue worthless directives, memorandums, and whatever else it might take to make a "busy" government office look... well... busy.

Wait til you see the taxes.

Wait til you hear the lefties crying about the poor people that have no more cheesy poofs and beer while the rich get to fly into space.
Yep... tax the shit out of space travel. That way, only the rich will be able to afford it.

Re:Taxes too! (2, Insightful)

HermesHuang (606596) | about 10 years ago | (#10462315)

Just like it's quite valid to have the FAA to make sure we don't have drunk pilots flying a 747 into a high school, I think it's quite valid to put some regulations on any space vehicles a company wants to launch. It'd make people feel a bit safer if they know that some third party (in this case the government, which is reasonably trustworthy on these things) has made some sort of inspection of a rocket saying that unless something goes horribly wrong it won't be dropping a tail fin into your living room.

The article and gist of the original posting to Slashdot is that there are regulations (nominally safety ones, we'll see if that's the same in a few years) that the government is putting (and has already had) in place to ensure peoples' safety around these vehicles which will be dropping from 100km above the ground. I don't recall any mention of taxes.

Back to the FAA. Its rules may be a bit outdated, and it might be a big dinosaur of a bureacracy now, but it's there to make air travel safe. It's there so that when I'm shopping for airline tickets I don't have to wonder whether United Airlines has been maintaining its airliners correctly so it won't fall apart the next time a hard landing happens. Yes, the FAA taxes airports. But the money to run a national air traffic network and to hire and pay thousands of inspectors has to come from somewhere.

You keep your government conspiracy theories. I'd still rather have the safety regulations then not.

2nd (-1, Offtopic)

Hassman (320786) | about 10 years ago | (#10462098)

2nd post?

Maybe they can't... (1)

Thunderstruck (210399) | about 10 years ago | (#10462100)

Congress can regulate it if its commercial and it crosses state lines. How far "UP" this authority goes is probably limited by the boundary of space. No nation has yet asserted the authority to regulate what goes on beyond the border of "space." This is what lets US sattelites fly over Russia. So Fly straight up, don't cross the border into Utah, and you're MUCH Harder to regulate.

Re:Maybe they can't... (1)

Skye16 (685048) | about 10 years ago | (#10462156)

Yeah, and drop a spent booster rocket on a school and see how fast this technicallity is rendered toothless.

Re:Maybe they can't... (1)

E-Rock (84950) | about 10 years ago | (#10462242)

Nah, that whole commerce clause has been blown to hell. If you buy parts for your rocket from another state they'll decide they can regulate you.

Re:Maybe they can't... (1)

glowimperial (705397) | about 10 years ago | (#10462253)

I imagine that they would view exiting the United States vertically as leaving the country. Like a ship sailing into international waters. Depending on the launch method, you will most definitely cross several states in order to get to space/orbit, and would be crossing state lines as well.

Regulation will most likely be boilerplate airline industry stuf with some chatter thrown in to cover space specific issues (discarded booster rockets, etc...).

Re:Maybe they can't... (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 10 years ago | (#10462273)

It's a lot easier to simply threaten to take the entire operation to Mexico if the regulations are too restrictive. It's a perfectly good place to launch from, and I'm sure Mexico isn't going to object to having a few millionaire holidaymakers crossing through their country, and a substantial investment from a new industry.

Government Involvement again? (1)

Lovedumplingx (245300) | about 10 years ago | (#10462105)

Once again the Government thinks (without any poling of the populice of whom they are supposed to represent) they need to step in and save us from ourselves.
I think a certain W recently put a cap in Stem Cell research (that may have helped thousands of people) as well.
This is really beginning to be a bad trend for the "Land of the Free".

hmm (3, Insightful)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | about 10 years ago | (#10462109)


Re:hmm (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | about 10 years ago | (#10462183)

This is SO true!

Lucky (2, Funny)

pete-classic (75983) | about 10 years ago | (#10462110)

observing about half the others driving with lights off

Actually, only about a third of the people on the roads in your area this morning had their lights on.

I'd say you were damn lucky this morning.


Local law (1)

Zedrick (764028) | about 10 years ago | (#10462111)

How could this possibly affect commercial space flight in any way? There are other countries to launch from, and space is free for all (at least until the Borg are back).

Speeding tickets? (4, Funny)

halivar (535827) | about 10 years ago | (#10462114)

Methinks they may try to put governors on our launch boosters. Too bad, I really wanted to rice out my first rocketship.

Re:Speeding tickets? (1)

ripsnorta (697485) | about 10 years ago | (#10462275)

Yeah, but then someone would try and put Jeb Bush on your launch booster and that would really suck!

Re:Speeding tickets? (1)

Xaroth (67516) | about 10 years ago | (#10462279)

Hmm... launching the Governator into space, you say? Methinks a reality tv-show is in the making...

Old D.D. Harriman had it right... (1)

rah1420 (234198) | about 10 years ago | (#10462124)

Make sure you have the laws passed BEFORE you start the venture, not the other way 'round.

It needs to happen. I hope they dont screw it up (1)

LordZardoz (155141) | about 10 years ago | (#10462132)

The regulation does need to happen, since the concerns are legitimate.

However, It is still quite early for such legislation to be written. The tech is still evolving. Just because SS1 took the X-Prize does not mean that their model will become the standard.

Once the differences in private space craft approach the level of similarity same as the differences in commercial air craft, then the regulation can be intelligently written.

Early legislation will probably focus on who has authority to sanction a flight plan, and what airports can double as space ports for various types of spacecraft.


bureaucracy lives (4, Insightful)

Shotgun (30919) | about 10 years ago | (#10462138)

...and like any living organism, the purpose of a bureaucracy is to grow, expand and reproduce.

The FAA has done more to limit general aviation advancement (as opposed to big commercial carriers) than anything real could ever do. I make the distinction as GA is aviation for the common man, and commercial carriers are another large bureaucracy. Their certification processes insure that people who know nothing enforce rules that may not apply, and guarantee that a plane will not fly until it is outweighed by the paperwork. Any new development will be mostly ignored, as the cost of certification will likely never be recaptured.

Now they want to limit a hand in space travel!?!

Several ways to view this (3, Insightful)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | about 10 years ago | (#10462140)

On the one hand, the small government crowd will say, "Let private industry do what it needs to do without all those regulations that tie people in knots trying to get things done. The government is too inefficient, and private industry is finally making great progress in the space area. Let them breathe!"

On the other hand, you have to acknowledge that the private approach is typically to put profits first, last, and mostly in-between, and if that means cutting corners, well what's a few accidents? The problem, of course, is that the public ends up paying for those accidents. If a rocket causes environmental damage, people pay, court cases spring up, it's a mess. If the rocket folks cut corners in a way that somehow (I dunno how, I'm just saying) threatens public health, we, the public end up paying higher health insurance claims. There's an interconnectedness at work here.

This is /., so we are sick of government interference in our high-tech toys. And they do go too far a lot of the time. But it's good to remember how far the private sector can go if there is no regulation whatsoever. A nice balance of corporate efficiency coupled with sensible public safety regulations would suit me. Let the rocket folks excel, but don't let them cause problems for the rest of us just because they put profits above all.

Re:Several ways to view this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462266)

Boy, the antigovernment types here crack me up, especially given that the Internet was a government program. I'd like to see their reaction once shrapnel from an exploding unregulated spaceship destroyed their house and killed their children, and 'tort reform' had made it impossible to sue...

Re:Several ways to view this (1)

Dr. Transparent (77005) | about 10 years ago | (#10462294)

You're right that there will always be people who abuse other people/environment/etc. on their way to finding more cash.

The question isn't whether or not there will be a problem, it's how do you handle that problem?

The solution shouldn't be to hinder everyone from participating, essentially assuming everyone is likely to be a guilty party and until they prove they're intentions are good we won't let them play. Instead, we should rely on the judicial system to prosecute law-breakers and enforce strict punishments. If anyone is willfully causing damage to others they should be punished. But we shouldn't require every damn bolt to be stamped "US GOV Approved" before launching.

Punish the evil. But give people a chance to prove they're evil before you start limiting everyone's opportunities.

Re:Several ways to view this (1)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | about 10 years ago | (#10462334)

I agree with you. I did say I was hoping for "sensible" regulation, but I also realize that I'm dreaming if I think that's going to happen.

A sane voice! (4, Insightful)

Telex4 (265980) | about 10 years ago | (#10462326)

Thank goodness someone can resist the kneejerk libertarian cry against Government involvement. Of course it's good that someone regulates this.


To ensure basic passenger safety; to ensure that they can cover themselves with insurance; to ensure that the vehicles don't destroy the environment more than they should; to ensure that commisioned flights aren't turned into effective kamikaze weapons.

There are all kinds of considerations here that would either require the industry to establish a credible self-regulatory body, for a citizen's association to establish credible certification body, or for Government to step in and regulate it. Now how many industries regulate themselves honestly and scrupulously? How many consumer association bodies have the power to bring down corporate malpractice? The void has to be filled by Government.

It's not the nanny state, nor is it beurocratic cronyism. It's protecting the nation from a bloody-minded selfish few.

Of course, the state can be a bad regulator, as US institutions often are, but that's another matter.

World Wide View (1)

SheldonYoung (25077) | about 10 years ago | (#10462143)

The nice thing about space is that you can get there from anywhere on the planet. If the United States makes it more difficult to run a space tourism business in the country than out then launch site will just be moved elsewhere.

No good deed goes unpunished (1)

Deanasc (201050) | about 10 years ago | (#10462157)

Yep, if those mongolians had regulated outriggers the way congress and the FAA regulate things there'd be no beautiful islands with naked polenesian women. US Gubmint wake up! We want to go into space. With you or without you we will. Some of us know how little it takes to get to space and we're tired of waiting for NASA to let us go.

Re:No good deed goes unpunished (1)

Trigun (685027) | about 10 years ago | (#10462267)

So we're fuelled with dreams of naked Martian women?

I wonder (1)

Geak (790376) | about 10 years ago | (#10462159)

When did the US claim space as government property?

duh (1)

over_exposed (623791) | about 10 years ago | (#10462163)

(to ensure boosters or other launch vehicle parts don't land on the unsuspecting public)

They would much rather have boosters land on the suspecting public...

Arrrrrrggghhh.... (1)

Your_Mom (94238) | about 10 years ago | (#10462172)

I was afraid that this will happen. Sadly, now the US will no longer be the leader in the space race.

Wright brothers took off in 190-*mumble*, and for years there was innovation after innovation: rudders, flaps, airelons, better engines. Sadly, people died, but hey, thats the price of experimentation. Then the FAA came in, and sadly, development has stagnated to nothing. I mean, look at how long it's taken the private sector to go into sub-orbital launches.

Now that we've done it, the government steps in onc again for 'safety concerns' and thus ruins a fledgling new industry.

Seriously, I'm moving to Russia or something where the government doesn't care, or if it does, it can be bribed with a bottle of Vodka or something.

Re:Arrrrrrggghhh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462257)

Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

You think the FAA has stopped innovation? Get real. You think Russia has more innovation? Get real.

Drop us a note when you move. Methinks you are full of shit on that note as well.

Re:Arrrrrrggghhh.... (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | about 10 years ago | (#10462354)

yeah yeah, but mostly in the infancy of flight, the people who died were the ones who were experimenting and testing their own experiments. Thats fine and all. That should be allowed to happen with space flight, and so far it seems it has. But how long after commercialized space flight will it take before we see the first lawsuit. Before bogging down the courts with another thing, lets say what people are or are not reponsible for when they buy a ticket into space, what standards the ships have to be maintained to, or what happens when a ship crashes on a neighborhood.

it's a fine line between covering your ass and over-regulation. i hope that the lawmakers respect this new industry (ha! doubtful)

but think ahead 200 years or so, when New Mexico has one of the planets leading space ports. It will have to have some regulations like current airports have.

And so the nascent industry moves to Grand Cayman (1)

Vengeance (46019) | about 10 years ago | (#10462182)

We're talking about space flight here, people. My guess would be that if doing business in the USA becomes too expensive or annoying, Mexico are right there over the border, closer to the equator and with plenty of land for launch facilities.

Leave it to the bureaucrats to hold back the economic and technological progress of the nation, they do it every time. This time, though, it might be AWFULLY tough to recover if we fall too far behind.

*sigh* (0)

Vengeance (46019) | about 10 years ago | (#10462206)

sed s/are/is/

Proposed solution to over-regulation problem (2, Insightful)

CdBee (742846) | about 10 years ago | (#10462207)

1) Don't launch from the USA

Re:Proposed solution to over-regulation problem (1)

rm007 (616365) | about 10 years ago | (#10462282)

and 2) don't register your company in the USA.

Given the price of these trips, I doubt that the added cost of having to fly to another country is going to significantly impact on customers' willingness to buy the service.

Office Space Regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462217)

just make sure you use the new cover page on your TPS reports.

Space Junk (1)

Thrymm (662097) | about 10 years ago | (#10462218)

Nothing seems to be outlined on how to deal with Space Junk. Someone plops down 100k or whatever and the Virgin spaceplane hits a few debris and poof, they get sued by the surviving family members.

ummmm, (1)

Trigun (685027) | about 10 years ago | (#10462307)

Isn't that what navagational shields are for?

Necessary evil (3, Interesting)

C3ntaur (642283) | about 10 years ago | (#10462226)

I have a lot of Libertarian views, but there are cases where government regulation is actually a Good Thing (or at least better than the alternative). Reason being, letting the market forces regulate corporate behavior just isn't good enough when planes (or rockets) fall out of the sky, food is contaminated, or drugs are defective, and people die as a result.

Corporations are soulless entities that will do anything and everything for profit. When human life and limb is at stake, safety guidelines must be established and enforced before an incident ever happens.

This is a good thing... (5, Interesting)

moofdaddy (570503) | about 10 years ago | (#10462239)

There is such a knee jerk reaction on slashdot when they hear the word Goverment. Goverment is not always a bad thing, in fact I contend that most of the time it is not. I am very glad the goverement is going to put some regulations on this. We're not talking about going out back and hitting a tether ball around, we're talking about launching a huge fucking missle into space.

Aside from the safety concerns above the craft, there are also major concerns for those around a launch site and for the enviorment in general. Rocket fuel is really nasty stuff. I remember the warnings after Columbia went bang sent out to people informing them that getting near peices of the reckage could be very hazerdous for their health. What happens when one of the crafts goes bang over some city or populated area? And what is to stop them from taking off on the outskirts of populated areas to begin with? Sure they arn't now, but no regulations exist on the books to ensure that they don't.

This is the job of goverment, this above all else is what I want them to regulate. They are not going to put a wet blanket on this new emerging industry, but they are going to make sure that as we move forward it is in a safe and non-reckless fashion.

Virgin Galactic (1)

White Roses (211207) | about 10 years ago | (#10462240)

Anyone know if Virgin Galactic will actually be launching in the US? If not, how, exactly, can the US regulate this? Frankly, if the US does over-regulate all of this, it'll just drive those high-dollar flights to other countries. We should be making it *easier* (within reason) not harder to run such touristy flights from here.

Law? (1)

lethalwp (583503) | about 10 years ago | (#10462244)

Will a VISA be needed to be able to go there?
Or maybe a work allowing card?


Government Hates... (1)

tamuct01 (726718) | about 10 years ago | (#10462248)

...a regulatory vaccuum. Since it has now been proven that private enterprise can do more with less money and less time than the Imperial Federal Government it is time to step in a squash the fledgling private space market. After all, in order to professionalize, you must federalize! (Tom Daschle)

Move offshore..... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462255)

or to another country. Problem with shortsighted bumbling US bureaucrats solve. Net Assets by Carl Bussjaeger is a pretty good book on how far US bureaucracy can go in it's incompetence. After that you have space colonies and complete autonomy. Next Issue?

Did ANYONE rtfa? (4, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | about 10 years ago | (#10462264)

Oops, this is /.

From what I could tell, there were 2 main concerns:

1: Uninvolved people on the ground shouldn't have to be any more concerned about debris raining down on them that they are, today. ie- they STAY uninvolved.

2: Those who want to go up are fully informed of the risks. The operators can't hide information about their operational or maintenance records in order to make a sale.

If initial regulations stick to those 2 points, I don't think its unreasonable, at all. For the forseeable future, I simply CAN'T fly on one, and I also DON'T want it falling on me, my loved ones, or my property. If I ever can afford to fly, I want to know the risks.

Obviously (0, Redundant)

Steffan (126616) | about 10 years ago | (#10462272)

Once they regulate it, they can tax it. Believe me...once they see the six-figure checks for the first flights going around, they'll want their cut.

Pathetic and UnAmercian. (0)

twitter (104583) | about 10 years ago | (#10462276)

Among concerns are safety of uninvolved public (to ensure boosters or other launch vehicle parts don't land on the unsuspecting public), assessing risk to passengers and level of fitness necessary to withstand the forces and conditions of spaceflight.

The same things can be said about riding a horse. Where's the body of regulations on them?

Once upon a time we were free to take risks and responsible for the consequences. You did not need permission to ride a horse, though it might hurt you and others. Congress did not make criteria for who was fit enough to ride and it still does not. If you managed to hurt yourself, that was your problem. If, through negligence, you hurt someone else you paid the price. Accidents happened, but it is in everyone's interest to be free. Guidelines are nice. Regulations stifle.

Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462284)

Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 09 20.html

Letter/e-mail campaign at: er tid=6512021

If you can afford $200k... (1)

mks113 (208282) | about 10 years ago | (#10462299)

An extra grand to get you to the spaceport in, say, Caymen Islands, isn't going to matter much.

Overregulation in the US will just ensure that the business moves elsewhere. I'm sure that if they feel safe enough to carry passengers, they will feel safe enough to operate from a good airport elsewhere.

Just don't go to St. Maarten [] unless you want to land your spaceship on the beach!

first post (2, Insightful)

Free_Trial_Thinking (818686) | about 10 years ago | (#10462302)

I vote against regulation of space tourism.

No worries (2, Insightful)

peacefinder (469349) | about 10 years ago | (#10462306)

It doesn't really matter what the US Congress or FAA has to say about this. If they put reasonable regulations in place, that's great... everyone wins. If they put unreasonably restictive regulations on space tourism, the launch sites will simply move to a place with more friendly regulation. Maybe they'll end up flying out of Bolivia. So what?

Virgin Galactic is talking about flights that cost $200,000 per passenger. Each passenger is buying a three day excursion including training and whatnot. Most would-be tourists will have to spend a least a day getting to Mojave and back.

If they're looking at $200,000 and five days for the ride of a lifetime, the added time and expense of travelling to a country with a more reasonable regulatory environment is not very burdensome.

Hopefully this will be sufficient incentive for the FAA and Congress to impose only reasonable regulations.

They don't want us to know (1)

CrazyDwarf (529428) | about 10 years ago | (#10462320)

level of fitness necessary to withstand the forces and conditions of spaceflight

They don't want us to know that there really are no physical fitness requirements. NASA's screening process has just been an excuse to keep boy band members from joining the ranks of Neil Armstrong, and Sally Ride.

You guys (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10462321)

You guys are a bunch of idiots.

You can have a story of the government helping children and you'll all mouth off that the government should have let nature run its course and let them starve.

culture havens (1)

plog (816386) | about 10 years ago | (#10462327)

in the old countries, woman's independence is killed
for honour
and women are killed for independence

in the new societies countries are fading
heritage is notation
sea change is the teat of growth

the new migration swelled west and west
towards the new world
until it broke on the western shore
and got stagnant

now west is up
and there is no one to colonize there

we need to survive
not meteors not warming
not an eschaton
but ourselves

a new culture is real hope
-the mission critical data-
and needs an offshore haven

let them test on tourists
and the freaks and geeks will follow

Once in space... (1)

flushtwice (802474) | about 10 years ago | (#10462329)

...enforcement becomes obsolete.

Some people live in a 2D life for so long they can't fathom the notion that there is an awsome amount of volume in space. Sure... Let them have a happy little regulation parade down the middle of Washington DC, but one day... one day-- People will be able to actually live extra-terrestrial lives, and governments as we know them today will no longer have any authority.

How can you enforce laws upon those you cannot possibly contain?

C'mon, is this really such a bad thing? (3, Insightful)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | about 10 years ago | (#10462337)

I mean, isn't it kind of a *good* idea to have some regulatory oversight whenever giant rockets and both private and public safety is involved? Would you *really* want the government to not regulate, say, aircraft and cars at all?

Sometimes this "when will the gubbmint get off our backs!" mentality just strikes me as being too dogmatic, not too mention simplistic. Besides, oversight like this can be a *good* thing for the companies involved. Establishing trusted, industry-wide standards for safety can go a long way towards legitimizing a new industry in the eyes of the public.

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