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Washington D.C. — The Commercial Spaceflight Federation welcomed several new member companies at its Executive Board meeting this week, expanding its membership to more than 60 companies.

Spaceport Camden of Camden County, Georgia joined CSF as an Executive Member. Steve Howard, Spaceport Camden project leader, will represent his organization on the CSF Board of Directors. “CSF’s mission strategically aligns with Camden’s goals, and we are pleased to join other industry leaders as part of this organization,” Howard said.

Also joining as CSF Associate Members are Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI), Kimley-Horn & Associates, MLA Space, Made in Space and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). Space Adventures will be renewing its commitment to CSF as an Associate Member.

Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida, was reelected as the CSF chairman. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute and Jeff Greason of XCOR were elected to serve as officers of the board.  At the meeting, CSF thanked out-going officers, Mark Sirangelo of the Sierra Nevada Corporation and Rob Meyerson of Blue Origin, for their years  of service as officers of the board, and for their continued commitment to the organization as CSF Board of Directors.

“The commercial spaceflight industry continues to strive and grow as witnessed by CSF’s expanding membership and the overwhelming commitment to the organization,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer said. “We are grateful for the continued leadership from the CSF Board and our members and look forward to the exciting year ahead.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering.

For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Jane Kinney at Jane@commercialspaceflight.org or 202.715.2928.

Today the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a public hearing to adjudicate the probable cause of last year’s SpaceShipTwo test flight accident, which resulted in an in-flight breakup. NTSB’s investigators and analysts presented their findings, conclusions, and recommendations in a draft report to the NTSB Board members. Throughout the discussion, NTSB staff and Board members praised the industry’s strong commitment to transparency and cooperation during the investigation, which helped lead to a more timely and complete resolution of the accident investigation.

“We cannot undo the unfortunate events that transpired last October,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer, “but we will successfully apply, and in some cases have already applied, the lessons learned to make our entire industry better and safer as a result.”

“CSF welcomes the NTSB’s report, and we pledge our support to promptly carrying out the recommendations given to us by the Board. We also pledge to continue to work with the Congress to ensure FAA AST has the resources necessary to fully address the safety findings and recommendations in the report.”

BACKGROUND:

NTSB’s draft report put forth ten recommendations directed at both the commercial space industry and FAA AST to improve processes, communication, and collaboration within and between one another. Importantly, none of the recommendations include calls for new regulations or additional government regulatory authority.

The NTSB proposes that the Secretary of Transportation utilize his current authority to improve safety through more collaboration with industry. The NTSB’s draft report reaffirms the integrity of the regulatory framework that currently underpins the commercial spaceflight industry. It adds additional credence to the bipartisan effort in Congress to extend the current framework before key provisions expire in September.

NTSB also issued two specific recommendations for CSF as the lead trade association in the industry dedicated to pursuing the highest levels of safety:

1) Advise commercial spaceflight operators to work with local emergency response partners to revise emergency response procedures for planning to ensure that helicopter and other resources are appropriately deployed during flights; and

2) Collaborate with FAA AST to develop and issue human factor guidance for operators to use throughout the design and operation of a vehicle. The guidance should address but not be limited to the human factor issues identified during the SpaceShipTwo accident investigation.

The NTSB Board voted to modify the staff’s draft findings and recommendations and approve them in revised form. The finalized report is expected to be published in the next two to four weeks.

“In his conclusion today, NTSB Chairman Hart reminded us that ‘anybody’s accident is everybody’s accident…when it comes to safety, industry must cooperate and collaborate with each other and with the FAA.’  That partnership among competitors and the government is why the CSF exists; an important dynamic NTSB recognized in issuing two of its recommendations to us today,” Stallmer concluded.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information, please visit http://www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Executive Director Tommy Sanford at tommy@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.715.2924.

Washington D.C. – Planet Labs designs, builds, and operates a large constellation of Earth-imaging satellites, which it frequently iterates and expands on through improved satellite builds. Planet Labs goal is to provide universal access to information about the changing planet through a platform that includes daily satellite Earth-imaging data, along with data from various other sources, including recently incorporated imagery from Landsat 8. Soon they will expand their database further, adding a massive archive of imagery through a proposed acquisition of BlackBridge geospatial companies and its associated RapidEye suite.

Once integrated, RapidEye will add six years and 6 billion square kilometers of Earth imagery to Planet Labs growing database, enabling Planet Labs to bring one of the largest commercial satellite imagery datasets to the web.

“CSF congratulates Planet Labs on their upcoming acquisition,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer. “This new partnership is an excellent example of the robust and expanding nature of the commercial space industry. Planet Labs’ burgeoning web-based dataset will further enable its customers and users access to timely, affordable, and accurate data that meets their diverse and changing needs.”

Pluto System, Milky Way Galaxy – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation extends their highest regards and congratulations to the entire New Horizons team on the success of their mission!

Early this morning, at approximately 7:50 am EDT, the New Horizons Spacecraft experienced its closest approach to the dwarf planet Pluto. This occurred after a journey of over nine years and three billion miles. New Horizons is the first mission aimed at exploring the Pluto System as well as the Kuiper Belt. The mission has already provided scientists with a plethora of new information regarding both Pluto, and its largest moon, Charon, and will continue to do so following further analysis.

“CSF applauds Alan Stern and his team for their hard work, dedication, and patience that they have displayed throughout this program. It is heartening to see the benefits that are already being reaped as well as the excitement that New Horizons has garnered around the globe,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer. “Through Alan’s work at the Southwest Research Institute, World View, and Golden Spike, he continues to push the boundaries of the commercial spaceflight industry to ever higher horizons. We are lucky to have his scientific expertise within our industry.”

If you are interested in learning more about New Horizons, you can consult the mission website here.

Washington, D.C.—Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Bill. The Bill provides $17.425 million for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, $2 million for Commercial Space Transportation Safety, and $2 million for Facilities and Equipment to better integrate Commercial Space Traffic with the National Airspace System.

The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) ensures that commercial launch and reentry activities are conducted without additional risk to the public or adjacent property, and that the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States are protected. While the Senate’s THUD Appropriations Bill doesn’t fund all of the requested increase in AST funding, it should ensure that AST can diligently process commercial space licenses and permits in a timely manner, without having to prioritize some applications over others, and thereby potentially delay some launches.

There were nine licensed or permitted Commercial Launches in FY 2015, and five Commercial Reentries. Each launch and reentry requires careful analysis of systems and trajectories, and coordination with air traffic to ensure public safety. Research into improved safety methods, and funding to improve facilities and equipment will streamline some activities and automate others. These are critical improvements as both space and air traffic volume increase. In addition to the FAA AST’s licensing and permit responsibilities, the Office also has oversight support responsibilities related to launch accident investigations.

“CSF applauds the Senate Appropriations Committee, and especially subcommittee leaders Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) for supporting the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation in a time of unprecedented activity,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer. “We also want to especially thank Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) for helping ensure that the FAA has the resources necessary to be a reliable and responsible partner in the economic development of space. CSF looks forward to continuing to work with Senate and House Appropriators to maintain the Senate’s number or even achieve the full budget request as they complete the FY 2016 appropriations process.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit http://www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Executive Director Tommy Sanford at tommy@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.715.2924.

Washington, D.C. – Jane Kinney will join the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) next week as its new Assistant Director. Kinney’s new appointment follows the departure earlier this month of Sirisha Bandla who left CSF for a new position in the commercial space industry.

Prior to joining CSF, Kinney worked in the space industry including serving as a Flight Controller at the NASA Johnson Space Center where she provided mission operations support to the International Space Station. In addition, she was a systems engineer at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

“Jane has an impressive background and brings a considerable amount of industry-related experience to CSF and will no doubt add a fresh approach and new ideas to the organization,” said CSF President, Eric Stallmer. “We look forward to having Jane as part of our team and her contributions to ensure CSF continues to deliver quality, strategic programs and support to our members,” Stallmer said.

As assistant director, Kinney will support CSF’s development of industry-led voluntary consensus standards, engagement on export control issues and industry and member relations, among other responsibilities.

Kinney holds a B.S. in Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University. Bandla, who served as CSF’s Assistant Director for 3 years, is also a Purdue graduate. “We are incredibly indebted to Sirisha for her commitment and outstanding accomplishments on behalf of CSF and its members. Her strong work ethic, depth and understanding of the commercial spaceflight industry and her dedication to the organization led to countless successes during her tenure. We’ll miss Sirisha, and wish her the best in her new opportunity.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information, please visit http://www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Executive Director Tommy Sanford at tommy@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.715.2924.

Washington D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 (SPACE Act of 2015) by a large bipartisan majority, 284-133. Among other things, the SPACE Act of 2015 addresses many of the major policy issues currently facing the commercial spaceflight industry relating to the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984.

This bill represents the culmination of many years of bipartisan oversight and study by the House, spanning multiple congresses, on matters related to U.S. commercial space transportation. It responds to input from a diverse set of experts in industry, government, academia and non-profit organizations, communicated through a multitude of democratic mediums, including Congressional oversight hearings, briefings, and reports.

CSF President Eric Stallmer released the following statement regarding the House’s bipartisan passage of the SPACE Act of 2015:

“The U.S. commercial space industry is rapidly expanding, and today’s bipartisan vote illustrates the House’s strong commitment to policies that enable its continued growth and international competitiveness. Most importantly, this bipartisan bill reaffirmed the FAA’s authority to regulate commercial space launches and reentries for the safety of the uninvolved public, safety of crew, and safety of spaceflight participants in response to an incident or a series of indications that something is wrong. Further, the SPACE Act fosters the development of industry-wide voluntary consensus standards and other means by which the federal government can encourage an ever-improving safety framework for the industry.

CSF would like to thank the 284 members of the House who voted for this important legislation. In addition, we would like to thank Majority Leader McCarthy, Chairman Smith, the cosponsors of this bill, the Republicans and Democrats who offered thoughtful amendments to improve the base bill, and the Congressional staff whose months of hard work and dedication made this possible. We look forward to continuing work with both parties in both houses of Congress towards a bipartisan bill that the President can sign into law this year.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit http://www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Associate Director Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.715.2928.

Washington, D.C. – This week the House Appropriations’ Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee passed their Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 spending bill. The legislation includes funding for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), which is a part of the Department of Transportation. The bill did not approve FAA AST’s $1.5 million requested budget increase for FY 2016, keeping FAA AST’s budget flat relative to their FY 2015 budget.

Since 2011, the commercial space sector has seen an increasing number of licensed launches each year, and as private companies enter their flight test phase, the number of applications, as well as the complexity and geographic diversity of launches, will just continue to grow. FAA AST plays a critical role in providing timely approval of launch permit and licenses for the commercial space industry, and their budget will constrain their ability to fulfill these responsibilities.

CSF President Eric Stallmer released the following statement regarding FAA AST’s funding for FY16:

“We understand that as long as the 2011 budget caps remain in place, Congress will be forced to make tough tradeoffs regarding funding priorities. With that said, funding this modest increase should be viewed as a priority, as it embodies a smart, growth-driven policy that provides certainty for the private sector to invest and innovate. The request is modest but the impact on productivity will be enormous, since without these funds the AST has stated it will be forced to enter into a triage process prioritizing government-related launches over private sector activity.”

Just this week, Blue Origin conducted a successful development flight of their New Shepard launch vehicle, and SpaceX conducted its fifth operational launch in four months. To continue on the current trajectory of the sector, we must ensure that the FAA AST has the resources it needs to work with the industry in a manner that will continue to promote growth, and improve public and occupant safety. The commercial space industry and government are partners in the economic development of space, and CSF looks forward to working with Congress to support this increase as it improves this bill through the legislative process.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit http://www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Associate Director Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.715.2928.

Washington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation applauds the proposals within NASA’s FY 2016 budget request that will enable NASA’s public-private partnerships to advance U.S. exploration in low-Earth orbit and beyond. The budget provides $1.24 billion for the Commercial Crew Program, $231 million for Advanced Exploration Systems (AES), and $15 million for Space Technology’s Flight Opportunities Program.

“Many of the proposals in this budget request continue the good work enacted into law by Congress last year,” stated CSF President Eric Stallmer. “We applaud the strong support for Commercial Crew and Cargo, Advanced Exploration Systems, and Space Technology’s Flight Opportunities Program, all of which contribute to safe, reliable, and cost-effective capabilities for our nation’s space program. We look forward to working with Congress to fully fund and authorize these innovative commercial approaches to achieve our national space priorities.”

NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Programs leverage competitive, firm-fixed price contracts to provide the U.S. with multiple transportation capabilities to and from the International Space Station; thereby ending NASA’s dependence on Russia by 2017. NASA currently pays Russia more than $70 million per seat to fly our Astronauts from Russia to the International Space Station. With two domestic providers under contract, the Commercial Crew Program will allow American Astronauts to fly from American soil and lower the average cost per seat to $58 million.

AES initiatives enable NASA to leverage industry’s investments in the development of exploration capabilities such as expandable habitat modules and lunar landers. These public-private partnerships will play a critical role in extending sustained human presence in and beyond low-Earth orbit.

The Flight Opportunities Program works with commercial companies to pursue cost-effective technology demonstration and science research opportunities on suborbital vehicles. The knowledge gained from these affordable flights will enable future manned and unmanned missions to new destinations, keeping the U.S. at the forefront of exploration technology.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.715.2928.

Washington D.C. — The Commercial Spaceflight Federation commends the hard work of the entire Orbital Sciences and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport teams in preparation for today’s launch of an Antares rocket carrying their Cygnus spacecraft. The Antares rocket incurred an anomaly shortly after liftoff, however no injuries were reported. Cygnus was an unmanned spacecraft intended to rendezvous with the International Space Station for its third resupply mission. Orbital Sciences Corporation is conducting a full investigation into today’s event.

“We must be mindful that launching rockets remains an extremely difficult task” stated CSF President Eric Stallmer. “The data gathered today will be applied to improve the process of developing safe and reliable commercial space flight services. We commend the partnership between NASA and the commercial space sector for their dedication to building a robust U.S. space program for frequent access to space.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.715.2928.