NASA, FAA Team for Commercial Space Activities
January 11, 2021
NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) signed a new memorandum of
understanding (MOU) reaffirming the agencies’ longstanding relationship to
foster robust American commercial space transportation capabilities, including
commercial crew and cargo activities.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, right,
and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson pose for a photograph during a ceremony
The NASA-FAA MOU follows the success of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 launch – the first
crewed mission from American soil to be licensed by the FAA.
The new agreement will support the transportation of government and
non-government passengers, cargo, and other payloads for orbital and suborbital
space missions in a safe and cost-effective manner, as well as streamline
spaceflight standards and requirements.
“NASA is now flying commercial cargo and crew missions to the International
Space Station, and soon we will send more people and science to space on new
suborbital flights,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Our partnership
with the FAA will support the growth of American commercial aerospace
capabilities that will benefit NASA, the nation, and the entire world.”
Under the MOU, NASA and the FAA will focus on building a clear framework for
private industry to follow for commercial launch and re-entry, as well as
coordinating an approach for sharing safety data with the public to enhance
understanding of the known risks of commercial space travel. NASA also will
collaborate with the FAA on the licensing of orbital and suborbital flights,
facilitating new space technologies and research opportunities, and advancing
point-to-point commercial suborbital pilot programs. The FAA is responsible for
the regulations governing commercial space launch and re-entry licensing.
partnership between the FAA and NASA is vital to continue the growth, innovation
and safety of commercial space operations, and maintain the pre-eminence of U.S.
leadership in the aerospace sector,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.
Continuing this partnership is critical to achieving the goals and objectives of
multiple U.S. space policies, including the 2020 National Space Policy and Space
Policy Directives 1, 2, and 3. The MOU also builds upon existing collaborations,
including between the FAA and NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, which helped
develop a framework for flying researchers from industry and academia on
commercial suborbital flights, allowing them to propose to fly with their
NASA-sponsored payloads for the first time.
NASA also is collaborating with the FAA on commercial suborbital spaceflight
activities through the Commercial Crew Program’s Suborbital Crew (SubC) efforts
to extend suborbital space transportation capabilities for NASA astronauts and
other NASA personnel.