Protecting spaceflight participants and crew during "non-regulated" on-orbit operations

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010: 2:30 PM
B315 (GWCC)
Karen Shelton-Mur, HQ FAA, Washington, DC

The Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 as amended (CSLA), authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to license a launch, a reentry, or the operation of a launch site carried out by a U.S. citizen or within the United States. On Dec 23, 2004 Congress gave AST the authority to issue Experimental Permits and regulate human space flight during launch and reentry. However, the Office of Commercial Space Transportation currently has no authority to regulate on-orbit activity.

Recent developments in commercial space transportation such as NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) program intends to stimulate cost-effective capabilities to transfer cargo and crew to the International Space Station (ISS) which could lead to an increase in on-orbit commercial space transportation. Furthermore, increased investment and development of commercial reusable launch vehicles and the potentially lucrative space tourism market could lead to an increase in suborbital commercial space activity. These commercial space activities could expose more humans to the space environment than present space missions.

Without proper regulation and monitoring, space weather events during sub-orbital and orbital operations could impact the crew and space flight participants as well as safety critical systems on board the spacecraft. This paper addresses the question regarding how the FAA can protect the public from space weather hazards without the authority to regulate on-orbit. This paper also discusses the types of space weather hazards that a space flight participant, crew, and safety critical system could encounter and will propose mitigation methods to ensure public safety in the absence of regulatory authority.