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National Space Council Remarks

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
National Space Council 
Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Mr. Vice President, and members of the National Space Council, it is a pleasure to join you today.

Later this month, the first America-built spacecraft to carry an American crew into orbit since 2011 will be launched.  This will demonstrate the growing capabilities of America’s commercial space launch industry. 

To ensure the continued vitality of our growing commercial space industry, the Department of Transportation’s FAA has been making organizational and procedural changes that will enable innovation and protect the public.

First, the FAA has established an Office of Spaceports to support existing sites and to better manage licensing of new spaceports.  With the license approval last week for Titusville in Florida, there are now 12 spaceports in the United States.  The FAA is currently working with applicants for 9 additional sites.  

Second, to ensure better accountability and have the responsibility for all launch and re-entry licensing and oversight activities under one executive, we have completed re-organizing the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation.   One advantage we already see is an improvement in communications with stakeholders.  They now have a single point of contact for questions and feedback. 

Third, in addition to these organizational changes, the Office is re-engineering all of its internal processes.  This will promote effectiveness, efficiency and scalability and will better meet the future needs of stakeholders while continuing to protect the public.

These last two efforts will maximize the benefits of the proposed streamlined launch and reentry rule. 

As you know, in response to a presidential mandate, the Department issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to streamline and increase flexibility in its Launch and Re-entry Licensing Requirements.  The Department is currently evaluating the comments to its NPRM and expects to meet the Council’s directive to publish the final rule in early Fall. The proposed rule will provide a performance-based regulatory approach that will keep pace with innovation, while protecting safety.  It will strengthen collaboration among stakeholders by encouraging both legacy, and new launch and reentry operators, to suggest and implement design and operation solutions.  It will also allow for a single license to be granted for multiple launches from different locations.

In summary, I’m pleased to report that the Department is on track to meet the mandates set forth by this Council.  Thank you.