A workshop on experimental permits for suborbital space tourism vehicle development testing is being held by the US Federal Aviation Administration's office of commercial space transport.

Created by the 2004 commercial space launch amendments act, an experimental permit will cover multiple vehicles of a particular design and allow an unlimited number of launches in one year. The renewable permits are for vehicle development only and do not allow passengers to be carried.

To obtain a permit, applicants will need to provide a development programme description, a flight-test plan, and operational safety documentation including a hazard analysis and a plan for response to a mishap. Developers will also have to establish criteria for the physical area in which a test vehicle will operate.

Suborbital tourism company Virgin Galactic and its vehicle developer Scaled Composites are planning to start test flights of the SpaceShipTwo in May next year.

Source: Flight International