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RLV Rules To Be Delivered To Federal Register Sept. 19; Industry Leaders Optimistic Of Favorable Outcome

By | September 13, 2000

      For many industry leaders trying to lessen the cost of space access, it has proven to be an uphill battle with varying degrees of U.S. government support.

      Members of the reusable launch vehicle (RLV) industry will see outlined regulations Sept. 19, which they have been instrumental in establishing, as to what is and is not acceptable in terms of developing next-generation space transportation vehicles. Industry leaders anticipate the proposed regulations will be within realistic guidelines and will not hinder business development.

      “What we wanted to see instituted from the very beginning was fairness in terms of the regulatory environment. We do not want biases in the regulatory framework that would eliminate consideration of various technologies,” Michael Gallo, co-founder, executive vice president and CEO of Kelly Space and Technology told SPACE BUSINESS NEWS. “We believe they will focus on the real need which is public safety–the primary work of the FAA.”

      Kelly Space and Technology is developing the Astroliner, which will use expendable upper stages to deploy its payload and return to Earth under the guidance of its two-member crew.

      “One of our great concerns is that there are some players who want to impose the same regime to [RLV] that regulates aircraft today,” added Bob Keltner, program manager with Kelly Space. “This is not favorable because you must first have a database to establish requirements [which has not been established] because without that, you then are imposing an unwarranted regulation.”

      Steven Wurst, president of Space Access LLC added, “We feel that the regulations will be favorable because the FAA has established a strong working relationship with us throughout this process and have taken our needs into account.”

      Space Access is developing a spaceplane that will use a hybrid propulsion system and one or two-rocket-powered upper stages to deliver payloads into space.

      “The industry comments as to what favorable guidelines would be were not that extensive, therefore, the final rules should not be that drastic,” said Chuck Kline, spokesperson with the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Office.

      Some RLVs hope to serve the market for geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) and low-Earth orbit (LEO) launches. In addition, more than a dozen RLV designs are proposed specifically to help foster a market for space tourism that will allow civilians to travel into space.

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