Congressman Kevin McCarthy's Spaceport bill signed into law this week

Posted at 11:28 AM, Nov 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-29 14:28:21-05

This week the President Barack Obama signed into law legislation sponsored by Congressman McCarthy to promote commercial spaceflight. Congressman McCarthy released the following statement:

“Our commercial space industry is flying a little higher today. With the President’s signature of this legislation, our spaceports will be able to prioritize safety and minimize the risk of structures interfering with the flight path of spacecraft on launch or reentry. Ingenuity has helped push the commercial space flight innovators to new heights and this legislation, along with the comprehensive SPACE Act that was signed into law last year, ensures our government policies keep up with the progress. I am proud of our community’s leadership in commercial space and will continue to fight in Congress so our community and nation remain at the forefront of this burgeoning industry.”

Most spaceports are located at existing airports, such as Mojave Air and Space Port, which is classified as a “ General Aviation” airport. 

Because of this, the FAA is limited to the metrics prescribed for studying potential structural obstructions to general aviation airports and aircraft, and is unable to take into account the unique trajectories of suborbital vehicles. 

H.R. 6007 would give the Secretary of Transportation the authority to conduct aeronautical studies at spaceports, allowing the FAA to study the potential impact of structures on spacecraft arriving or departing from a licensed launch site.

Additionally, the bill requires rulemaking to implement this requirement within 18 months of enactment.