Recent developments in commercial space transportation such as NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) and Commercial Crew Development (CCDEV) program is expected to stimulate efforts within the commercial sector to aid in the development of cost-effective transportation capabilities to transfer cargo and crew to low-Earth orbit (LEO) and the International Space Station (ISS). Once LEO capabilities are demonstrated by commercial companies, it is anticipated that LEO flights will be expanded to include space flight participants (private citizens). The expansion of commercial space activities into LEO will expose more humans to the harsh space environment than ever before.
Without proper authority and monitoring of on-orbit activities, how will the FAA ensure safety of the crew, its space flight participants, and safety critical systems on board the spacecraft? This paper provides background on the FAA's authority for commercial space activity and addresses the question of how the FAA can protect the public from space weather hazards.