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FAA and US Air Force Streamline Commercial Space Launch Regulations 

By Rachel Jewett | June 22, 2021

SpaceX launches the fifth GPS III satellite on June 17, 2021. Photo: SpaceX

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of the Air Force have signed an agreement to streamline regulation for commercial space launch activity. The agreement, signed June 21, establishes a single approval process for launches at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Under the agreement, the FAA will accept the Department of the Air Force’s ground safety rules and other safety processes as long as they meet FAA regulations. At the same time, the Department of the Air Force will accept FAA licensing decisions and “generally will not impose its own requirements.” The agencies have also agreed to consult before responding to commercial space operator requests for relief from safety requirements and on the development of hazard areas. 

“Building a streamlined regulatory approach for commercial space activities at these federal launch sites is the right thing to do for public safety and U.S. competitiveness,” commented FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “This agreement will help the burgeoning U.S. commercial space industry grow even faster and continue to lead the world in safety and innovation.”