NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) clarifying the certification process for commercial spaceflight.
The MoU essentially delineates what had previously been unclear - that NASA would be given no responsibility to approve spaceflights unconnected to its missions.
"In the case of a non-NASA mission, the FAA will still license the flight to ensure public safety, and NASA will have no involvement," says NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
Commercial missions operated on NASA's behalf will have to receive certification from the FAA. NASA's role in those flights will be to ensure crew and vehicle safety, with the ability to approve or veto any flight that endangers those assets.
"The MoU was primarily oriented towards commercial human spacelight," says FAA acting director Michael Huerta. "We already have processes to handle noncrewed flightwe've pretty much got that process all taken care of."
"As it stands today our regulatory authority is limited to the launch and reentry itself," he adds.
Bolden noted during the press conference that a downselect in NASA's commercial crew integrated capability (CCiCap) is scheduled for "no later than mid-July or so," confirming that the agency's examination of bids is progressing at a rapid clip.