FAA Launches Commercial Human Spaceflight Occupant Safety Rulemaking Committee

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is launching a rulemaking committee to examine the development and cost of possible future regulations for commercial human spaceflight occupant safety.

The agency is taking this action due to the increase in commercial space activities and the impending end of the Congressional prohibition on commercial human spaceflight regulations in October 2023.

The committee is expected to gather recommendations from industry and other stakeholders to help the FAA plan, conceive, and implement—when the time is right—a well-informed, thoughtful, regulatory regime for commercial human spaceflight occupant safety. Recommendations will be submitted to the FAA next summer.

The committee is co-chaired by Dr. Minh Nguyen, executive director of the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation and Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, chief government and external relations officer of Axiom Space.

Under current federal law, the FAA cannot regulate the safety of individuals on board a space launch or reentry vehicle absent death, serious injury, or a close call. Congress first imposed this regulatory learning period in 2004, and subsequently extended it, to ensure the industry had ample time to grow and innovate.

Presently, FAA regulations require crew and spaceflight participants are made aware of the hazards of space travel and fly under a written informed consent framework.

In addition to this rulemaking committee, the FAA is updating its recommended practices for commercial human spaceflight occupant safety, working with various organizations to develop voluntary consensus standard and conducting or facilitating human spaceflight research.