UK government report recommends space tourism rules should help industry

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Regulation of suborbital and orbital tourism should be developed in phases to facilitate the new space industry's growth, according to the UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

In a draft report for its partner, the British National Space Centre (BNSC), the STFC recommends that the UK government adopt a phased approach to regulation as the industry develops.

The report suggests that the regulatory regime should facilitate the industry's development that BNSC should work with industry to assess evaluation methods for spaceflight vehicles, ground infrastructure and crew and tourists and that BNSC should seek an international framework and identify mutual recognition agreement opportunities for launch licensing.

It also says that spaceflight participants should fly at their own risk.

In his presentation to the International Academy of Astronautics' symposium on private human access to space in Arcachon, France, report author Richard Crowther said: "BNSC sought a [UK launch licensing] review...to deal with the emerging space tourism market."

The BNSC is the UK Outer Space Act 1986 regulatory authority and discharges the country's obligations under the four outer-space-related treaties.

The treaty obligations mean the BNSC must license Virgin Galactic and any other future operator involving UK citizens even though they may not operate from the UK. Virgin Galactic expects to operate from New Mexico from 2010.

At the Arcachon event, European space law specialists proposed the creation of a European Aviation Safety Agency space transport department with a European Union legal framework that replicates the US Federal Aviation Administration's approach.