Can US private space survive two explosions in four days?

Applied Technology Institute (ATIcourses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering. We think the news below could be of interest to our readers. Fiery failures are no stranger to the space game. It’s what happens when you push the boundaries of what technology can do, where people can go. And it […]
Applied Technology Institute (ATIcourses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering. We think the news below could be of interest to our readers. Fiery failures are no stranger to the space game. It’s what happens when you push the boundaries of what technology can do, where people can go. And it happened again to Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. In the past decade, the space industry has tried to go from risky and government-run to routine private enterprise — so routine that if you have lots of money you can buy a ticket on a private spaceship and become a space tourist. More than 500 people have booked a flight, including Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher and little known space scientist Alan Stern. But it all depends on flying becoming safe and routine. This week hasn’t helped. Three days after a private unmanned Orbital Sciences rocket taking cargo up to the International Space Station blew up six seconds into its flight, a test flight of SpaceShipTwo exploded over the Mojave Desert with two people on board, killing one crew member. The developments reignited the debate about the role of business in space and whether it is or will ever be safe enough for everyday people looking for an expensive 50-mile (80-kilometre)-high thrill ride. “It’s a real setback to the idea that lots of people are going to be taking joyrides into the fringes of outer space any time soon,” said John Logsdon, retired space policy director at George Washington University. “There were a lot of people who believed that the technology to carry people is safely at hand.” The question for space tourism might be, “if it survives,” Logsdon said. But he thinks its momentum in recent years will keep it alive. Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson expressed the same view on November 1 after arriving in Mojave, California, to meet with the project workforce reeling from the accident. “We would love to finish what was started some years ago, and I think pretty well all our astronauts would love us to finish it, love to go to space,” he said. “Millions of people in the world would love to one day have the chance to go to space.” Federal estimates of the commercial space industry —only a little of it involving tourism — exceed US$200 billion. NASA is counting on private companies such as SpaceX and Orbital Sciences to haul cargo to the space station. They are also spending billions to help SpaceX and Boeing build ships that will eventually take people there, too.


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Space Tourism and Informed Consent Laws

ATI specializes in Space and Launch Vehicles technical training. We thought that the evolving state of law and regulations discussed below may interest you. A full listing of ATIcourses” Space and Launch is listed at this link.  http://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm#space Spaceport America is lobbying New Mexico legislators to expand legislation to provide protection to suppliers and manufacturers […]
ATI specializes in Space and Launch Vehicles technical training. We thought that the evolving state of law and regulations discussed below may interest you. A full listing of ATIcourses” Space and Launch is listed at this link.  http://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm#space Spaceport America is lobbying New Mexico legislators to expand legislation to provide protection to suppliers and manufacturers of private spacecraft’s.  New Mexico already has legislation exempting operators from being sued by passengers, so long as the passenger has signed an informed consent. However, the current exemption does not apply to suppliers and manufacturers, could be liable if or when an accident occurs. Without such protections space tourism companies, such as Virgin Galactic, may be forced to leave New Mexico for states that provide greater liability protection.  For example, Virginia  2007 legislation addressing immunity from tort claims relating to space flight broadly defined “space entity” to include not only an operator but also “any manufacturer or supplier of components, services, or vehicles that have been reviewed by” the FAA as part of issuing such a permit or license.. Va. Code. Ann. §§ 8.01-227.8 to 8.01-227.10. However, even if New Mexico passes legislation similar Virginia’s, it is unclear if  that legislation would provided the desired protections. Discussing the proposed legislation, attorney Guigi Carminati stated: “I understand the impetus to try to match other states, but right now there is no guarantee it’s enforceable.”   There are several potential problems with immunizing legislation.  First, it is unclear whether any such state legislation would be pre-empted by federal law. Second, informed consent waivers are not always enforceable in court.  Although there is a substantial body of case law regarding when informed consent for dangerous activities is and is not enforceable, there is no case law relating to space launches. Despite the uncertainties surrounding informed consent legislation, one thing is clear. The failure to pass a liability exemption for suppliers and manufacturers could cripple New Mexico’s commercial space industry.  Former FAA official, Patti Smith, noted that “since other states have extended the liability exemption to suppliers, New Mexico must do the same to remain competitive.” Otherwise facilities such as Space Port America, New Mexico’s recently completed $200 million commercial spaceport, may be left  deserted. You can find more information in this interesting article. ATIcourses instructors are available as expert witnesses in the technical and engineering areas of Space Technology  http://www.crowell.com/files/2011-Limitations-On-Liability-As-To-Space-Tourists.pdf   Another useful source of information is http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130107/us-travel-spaceport-liability-legislation/?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=green
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California space law boosts business, not safety

Private cargo-carrying spacecraft? No problem, but put people on commercial flights and things get messy. Just as NASA set the date for SpaceX’s first official trip to the International Space Station, the firm’s home state of California passed a law lightening company responsibility for the safety of future passengers. No private space firm yet sends crewed flights […]
Private cargo-carrying spacecraft? No problem, but put people on commercial flights and things get messy. Just as NASA set the date for SpaceX’s first official trip to the International Space Station, the firm’s home state of California passed a law lightening company responsibility for the safety of future passengers. No private space firm yet sends crewed flights to space, but that is the plan. The new law treats spaceflight rather like sky-diving, requiring future travellers to give “informed consent”. They agree not to sue the company they fly with if they’re injured or killed in the process. California is the last of the states hosting major contenders in the commercial space race to pass such a law, trailing Virginia, home to Orbital Sciences, New Mexico (Virgin Galactic), and Texas (Blue Origin), which have already done so. The laws may make a state more attractive to space businesses, but without statistics on the safety of commercial flights, travellers sign away their right to sue blindly. However, space tourists may not care: Virgin Galactic, which plans to launch its first crewed flight in 2013, has a roster of passengers who have signed consent agreements. What is your opinion?
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Virgin Galactic To Handle Suborbital Flights For NASA

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is the only crewed suborbital vehicle in flight test today, and the only such vehicle based on a spacecraft that has already sent humans into space, the X Prize-winning SpaceShipOne. So it comes as no surprise that NASA chose SpaceShipTwo to handle suborbital flights. According to NASA, Virgin Galactic offers a significantly […]
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is the only crewed suborbital vehicle in flight test today, and the only such vehicle based on a spacecraft that has already sent humans into space, the X Prize-winning SpaceShipOne. So it comes as no surprise that NASA chose SpaceShipTwo to handle suborbital flights. According to NASA, Virgin Galactic offers a significantly larger cabin than any other company taking deposits today, allowing for unique technology demonstrations and research. With several flight providers selected, NASA will now be able to begin the process of offering these flight opportunities to the research community. Read more here.


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