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GAO: FAA Faces Commercial Space Launch Oversight Challenges

ULAlaunchA Government Accountability Office report has identified multiple challenges faced by the Federal Aviation Administration in regulating commercial space launch activities as the industry expands.

GAO said Monday that FAA saw an increase in the agency’s workloads related to its permit process for space tourism, launching of small satellites and NASA-run commercial cargo and crew transportation programs.

Industry representatives told GAO during a survey that they want Congress to extend a regulatory moratorium on spacecraft passenger safety beyond Sept. 30 to allow industry to further develop.

The report noted three accidents involving FAA-approved commercial space launches have occurred since October 2014 and that FAA will have the power to decide whether to regulate spaceflight safety operations if the moratorium is not extended.

GAO recommended that FAA provide more information about its oversight workload issues when it submits a budget plan to Congress.

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