Secretary Mineta Announces Proposed Guidelines for Commercial Space Travel

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ — People who want to travel into space may be required to get a physical and would need to sign consent forms stating they understand the risks associated with launching into space, according to new proposed federal guidelines for commercial space travel announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today.

The draft guidelines, written by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), also suggest that operators of reusable launch vehicles inform their passengers of the safety record of the vehicle they are using, and provide safety training before the launch, Mineta said.

“We’re not going to lose sight of safety,” Mineta said during a speech to an audience of aerospace supporters attending the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, D.C. But he noted “these guidelines for space tourism respect that this is uncharted territory,” adding they allow operators “to determine the best way to meet the standards.”

A second set of guidelines for flight crew members also has been developed, Mineta said. Pilots of reusable launch vehicles would need to hold an FAA pilot certificate, and meet medical standards.

They also should be trained to operate their vehicle so that it will not harm the public, with emphasis on responding to abort scenarios, emergency operations and procedures that direct the vehicle away from the public in the event of a problem during flight, Mineta added.

Mineta called those involved in sub-orbital missions “daring adventurers” and emphasized that the draft guidelines were “recognition of the developmental state of the industry.”

He encouraged feedback on the guidelines and said his goal is to have this fledgling industry succeed.

“We don’t want to stifle innovation when you may very well find an approach that serves even better in the course of your design work,” Mineta said.

Officials with the FAA’s Space Transportation Office will present a detailed explanation of the guidelines later in the conference.

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