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Little progress means no change for US space tourism rules

A lack of progress in space tourism's development is expected to mean there will be no change in US rules for the industry. The country's informed waiver approach is likely to continue beyond 2012.

A yet to be published US Federal Aviation Administration report produced for the US Congress under its Commercial Space Launch Act Amendment 2004 is expected to find that no substantial rule changes are needed because the industry has not progressed sufficiently to warrant further legislation.

For customers, only an informed waiver is required to show that the individual understands the risks involved and the vehicles they fly in do not have to be certificated by the FAA. Its office of commercial space transport is overseeing the nascent industry.

The 2004 Act set a sunset date of 2012 for the waiver rules, if the report, which the Act also set in motion, found that the industry's development warranted new regulation.

The George Washington University's school of engineering and applied science's space and advanced communications research Institute's director, Joseph Pelton said in an interview with Flight International at the 3rd International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety conference in Rome this week: "The Personal Spaceflight Federation has seen [the report] and they didn't have a problem with it. We're reporting to [the FAA] on 30 October."

Pelton's university partnered the Aerospace Corporation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the course of the study and production of the report. The Personal Spaceflight Federation is the trade body for the US space tourism industry.

Watch experts discuss the future of personal spaceflight at last week's IAASS conference in Rome at Rob Coppinger's Hyperbola blog
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