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Guest: Jim Muncy; Topics: Draft regulations for commercial space transportation and launches, rules, regulations, and much more.
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We welcomed Jim Muncy back to the program for this one segment 1 hour 38 minute discussion about the draft rules and regulations now under consideration for the commercial launch and space transportation industry. During the program, Jim referred to the website where you can review the draft rules/regs and comment. This site is posted on our blog but this is the URL: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FAA-2019-0229. If you do post a comment to this site regarding the rules, please post it on our blog as well so we can all benefit from what you have to say on the subject.
Mr. Muncy started our discussion with a short historical review regarding the regulation of the commercial space transportation and launch industry. You definitely want to hear this as it forms an excellent basis for the advanced discussion that Jim and I had on the commercial launch and related industry. In addition, you will hear about controversies and preferred methods of evaluating and accepting rules but note that our guest made the point, several times I might add, that there were only good intentions on the part of the rule makers and nobody was out to sabotage the industry, commercial space or anything like that. This is a very important point to remember.
For roughly the first half of the show, the commercial space and launch history was a big part of our discussion along with understanding the organizational structure of the FAA, Dept. of Transportation, AST, even NOAA, the USAF, Dept. of Commerce and the Defense Dept. In addition, Jim made sure we understood what was meant by public safety, who had or has responsibility for what, plus why new rules for modern rockets meant to fly multiple times a year and to be reusable are necessary. Jim spent time talking about the old rules that applied mostly to government launches, far fewer annual launches than we have today and will have in the future, plus they old rules and regs only focused on expendable rockets. The launch industry of today and tomorrow is very different with different types and sizes of rockets, a high launch capacity, multiple players, reusability and more. It is important to have a clear understanding of why new rules and regulations are needed. During this part of our program, Jim did an excellent job in conveying that importance and understanding to us.
As we started talking about new rules and regulations, Jim told us about the need for rules to be performance based which he described as very different from the old rules for mostly government launches and expendable rockets. Don't miss this discussion as performance based rules and regs are mentioned multiple times during our discussion and the key to a growing, expanding, and successful commercial industry. Jim also broke it down by government organization and agency as there are multiple separate interests by the various players in the industry and government. Jim's detailed discussion went a long way to helping us to see the complexities involved, the competing interests and why new rules and regs were needed but with the advice and consent of the commercial industry.
We had several listener email questions. Some listeners wanted Jim to suggest how best to respond with a comment on the above FAA website. One listener wanted to know if the new director of the AST was a friend of the commercial industry as was Dr. George Neil who recently retired. Don't miss what Jim said about the new AST Director and his qualifications, Brig. Gen. Wayne R. Monteith. Bob from Boston asked Jim if the new rules and regs had the potential to impact one way or the other investment in the commercial launch and transportation industry, especially with the entrepreneurial companies going to the market for capital. Don't miss what Jim said in response to Bob's question. Helen wanted to know who would be liable for a mishap or accident, damage or injury with the new rules and regs. She was concerned about giving this responsibility over to the commercial industry. Jim made it clear that determining safety was still a responsibility of the government but the commercial industry wanted to know the criteria used for determining safety so they could comply. That said, Jim was sharply focused on saying the government would always be the responsible party for making the determinations just as he stressed the need for clear rules and regulations so the industry would know what they had to do to operate and be successful in their operations.
Another listener asked about AST regs regarding a commercial lander setting down on the Moon. As you will hear, such an event is beyond AST regulation. Listen to Jim's discussion of this. Also note what he said about SpaceIL and their attempt to land on the Moon as opposed to an American company wanting to land on the Moon. He then cited Moon Express as an example of the American company. Jim offer several concluding comments and suggestions including reminding us to post a comment on the FAA page listed above and on our blog. He reminded us why this was so important for this industry moving forward.
Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this show. You can reach Jim Muncy through me or his LinkedIn contact website: www.linkedin.com/in/jim-muncy-5819783/detail/contact-info.