From: The Honorable Jim Bridenstine
Supported by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Current Signers: Bera, Beyer, Comstock, Crist, DeSaulnier, Dunn, Hastings, Knight, Olson, Perlmutter, Posey, Soto, Smith (WA), Takano
Please join me in a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies requesting $23 million for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST).
FAA/AST is charged with both regulating and facilitating the commercial space industry, through activities such as pre-application consultations, safety approvals, environmental reviews, payload reviews, and the issuance of
experimental permits, launch site licenses, and launch and reentry licenses. Over the past decade, commercial space activity has greatly expanded while resources and staffing for this office has remained essentially flat. Many in the commercial space industry
feel the added strain from FAA/AST’s increased workload is detrimental to their businesses.
In recent years, Congress has passed legislation to further facilitate growth in this industry as well as enhance partnerships between the industry and agencies such as the Department of Defense and NASA. Congress expects commercial
space activity to continue to increase, and in order for this increase to materialize it is necessary for FAA/AST to have adequate resources.
If you would like to sign on, or have additional questions, please contact Christopher Ingraham (firstname.lastname@example.org, x66619). Deadline to sign on is COB
Wednesday, March 29, 2017.
April X, 2017
The Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart The Honorable David Price
Chairman Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing
and Urban Development, and Related Agencies and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations
2358-A Rayburn House Office Building 1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Diaz-Balart and Ranking Member Price,
As you begin work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, we respectfully request the Subcommittee fund the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation
(FAA/AST) at $23 million.
The commercial space industry is a hotbed of innovation and a critical aspect of maintaining American preeminence in space. It serves as both a tool of economic growth and an economic provider of services. In recent years, Congress has shown support for
commercial space activity with the passage of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (P.L. 114-90), as well as indicating an understanding of what this industry can provide to the government through legislation such as the National Defense Authorization
Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (P.L. 114-328) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act (P.L. 115-10). To fully carry out Congress’ commitment to this industry, it is imperative we follow through and properly fund FAA/AST,
the entity responsible for regulating, encouraging, facilitating, and promoting the commercial space industry.
FAA/AST does not have the resources to efficiently or effectively carry out its duties currently, and will only be further tried as commercial space activity expands. The office is currently engaged in 74 total active projects, which includes licenses, permits,
safety approvals, payload reviews, and other activities. For comparison, FAA/AST was engaged in 62 total active projects at this point a year ago and 38 total active projects at this point in 2015.
Without adequate funding, FAA/AST will have to prioritize issuing licenses and permits to the detriment of all other activities, such as pre-application consultations, that eventually lead to license applications. This could hinder companies’ decision-making
processes and slow down projects. Additionally, it is entirely feasible that, should commercial space activity grow as we expect it to, that FAA/AST could be forced prioritize which licenses and permits get adjudicated within statutory time limits.
We are also concerned with the status of the regulations governing this industry and overseen by FAA/AST. Many of the regulations covered in Part 400 of the Code of Federal Regulations date back decades and do not represent the pace of technological innovation
nor the demand for commercial launch. The current staffing and funding levels do not allow for much focus on this aspect of the challenges facing the office, and operating based on outdated regulations is a time-consuming burden for both FAA/AST employees
as well as industry stakeholders.
If FAA/AST were to be appropriated $23 million, this would allow the agency to hire additional employees to support the current and expected workload facing this office. As supporters of the commercial space industry, we recognize the need
for this office to receive the proper resources to carry out its congressionally mandated duties. We urge the subcommittee to fully fund this agency, which will facilitate the commercial space industry to grow and innovate.