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USAF, FAA collaborate on commercial space regulations

The U.S. Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration agreed to safety regulations for commercial space operators. Photo by Airman Vyonne Morales/U.S. Air Force
The U.S. Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration agreed to safety regulations for commercial space operators. Photo by Airman Vyonne Morales/U.S. Air Force

June 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration entered into an agreement to ensure public safety at Space Force bases, both agencies said on Monday.

The accord, signed on June 15, also offers the reduction of complications in duplicative processes and approvals for the commercial space sector, officials said.

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"Assured access to space is vital to our national security," Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth said in a press release.

"The launch licensing standards provided in the agreement will support a rapidly expanding commercial launch sector and strengthen our space industrial base, bolstering our economy and enhancing our security as a nation," Roth said.

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Under the agreement, the FAA will accept the Department of the Air Force's ground safety rules and other safety processes as long as they satisfy FAA regulations.

Conversely, the Department of the Air Force will accept FAA licensing decisions and generally will not impose its own requirements for the flight portion of a launch or reentry.

Additionally, ground safety at the two launch facilities which include commercial space operations, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., and Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., will collaborate on safety rules and environmental rules.

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"Building a streamlined regulatory approach for commercial space activities at these federal launch sites is the right thing to do for public safety and U.S. competitiveness," Steve Dickson, FAA administrator, said in the release.

"This agreement will help the burgeoning U.S. commercial space industry grow even faster and continue to lead the world in safety and innovation," Dickson said.

Vandenberg Space Force Base has grown considerably since its designation as a Space Force launch site.

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SpaceX will begin launching the company's Starlink satellites toward polar orbits from Vandenberg soon, Col. Anthony Mastalir, commander of Vandenberg's launch range and personnel, told UPI in a June 1 interview.

"Just within the last couple of months, we've seen SpaceX put half a dozen Falcon 9 launches on the manifest to complete their Starlink constellation and hit the higher orbits they need to hit," Mastalir said.

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