Commercial Space Transportation

Space launchFollowing its inception in 1989, the U.S. commercial space sector grew at an accelerating pace and by 1998 had achieved its 100th space vehicle launch. In 1995, meanwhile, the FAA assumed responsibility for safety regulation of this field of enterprise, a task initially performed by the Office of the Secretary of Transportation. The FAA's program encourages the industry and ensures its safety by licensing commercial spaceport facilities and the launching of payloads on expendable vehicles.

The photograph shows a Zenit-3SL lifting off from its ocean-based platform in an FAA-licensed launch by an international consortium. Commercial space payloads provide services that include communications, remote sensing, and scientific research.