The Biden administration on Wednesday released a long-awaited proposal to split regulatory powers over emerging private-sector space activities between the U.S. transportation and commerce departments, according to a draft legislative proposal.
The plan would expand the Federal Aviation Administration’s oversight of rocket launch sites on Earth to include various crewed and uncrewed activities in space, from regulating private astronaut missions to licensing commercial space stations and trips to the moon.
And the U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees imaging satellites and other commercial remote sensing activities, would have various other uncrewed spacecraft added to its regulatory purview, such as the emerging field of privately built in-space servicing spacecraft.
Private space endeavors are surging in the U.S., from tourist trips to commercial refueling satellites. Yet few U.S. regulations govern those novel activities as various countries step up their presence in Earth’s orbit, a borderless domain with surging spacecraft traffic.
The proposed regulatory arrangement aims to keep the U.S. in compliance with a landmark space treaty requiring countries to authorize and supervise the activities of non-government entities.
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