REMARKS BY

 

PATRICIA GRACE SMITH

 

 

ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR

 

COMMERCIAL SPACE TRANSPORTATION

 

 

FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION

 

 

BEFORE THE

 

 

COMMERCIAL SPACE TRANSPORTATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE

 

 

FAA Headquarters

 

 

MAY 31, 2000

 

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good morning, ladies and gentleman and welcome to the 31st meeting of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee. Iím very pleased to see you all and to have an opportunity to up-date you on the activities of AST since our last meeting in October. It has been a busy time with both ups and downs, with overall more positives than negatives. But before I get to that, there are two presentations I want to make

Special Presentation

For 15 years, COMSTAC has been a special group, a select collection of industry representatives that made a significant contribution to an emerging industry that needed guidance and nurturing from its government in its early stages and wise and sagacious counsel as it matured.

Its membership as a whole has provided this kind of input over the years and has contributed greatly to the development of policy and direction that has allowed the U.S. space launch industry to regain the leadership of the international launch industry market. The current membership of COMSTAC has that balance, knowledge and expertise to continue this kind of contribution.

Over these years, however, there have been a few individuals who have distinguished themselves as people who have left a singular legacy. The giants, if you will, among the major contributors to the work of COMSTAC. No one has contributed more, over a longer time, and with more dedication, than Paul Fuller, two term Chairman of the Committee, long term leader of the Technology and Innovation Working Group and 11-year member of the group.

I am deeply honored to have his wife, Elizabeth Fuller here today and to present her with this plaque commemorating the major contribution Paul made, and the admiration we all had, for our friend, colleague and leader, Paul Fuller. Betty, please accept this plaque as a symbol of the respect and affection for Paul, not only by our office and COMSTAC, but by an entire industry he served in such an exemplary manner.

I also want to make a presentation recognizing the contributions of another outstanding leader who has also served COMSTAC well, our outgoing chairman, Steve Flajser. Steve, on behalf of DOT Secretary Rodney Slater, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, and myself, I thank you for your wise counsel and the superb visionary leadership you provided to us and to COMSTAC. I know I speak for the entire committee when I express my gratitude for the job you have done leading COMSTAC for the past two years.

It is not always an easy job, but it is an important one with consequences for an industry essential to the national economy and security of our nation. Please accept this Plaque as a token of appreciation, again from the department, the COMSTAC, and the industry, for the wisdom, judgment and leadership you have shown during your tenure, and indeed, you career. Thank you.

And now I would like to turn to a few remarks I prepared for this meeting.

Once again Deputy Secretary Mortimer Downeyís incredibly busy schedule and broad responsibilities have prevented him from joining us today as both we and he had hoped. In fact he is with Congressman Bud Cramer in Alabama where he will make a speech that includes information about commercial space transportation. He remains a staunch friend and supporter of commercial space transportation and I frequently look to him in terms of bringing our issues to the attention of the Secretary and the senior leaders of the Administration. I know Mort would have liked to have been here.

To you, the membership, I want to say again, we are grateful to you for your willingness to give of your time, experience and expertise to make this Committee the valuable institution it is. A lot of very meaningful work goes on in this body and in its working groups. The work of this committee, as evidenced by the excellent agenda we have for todayís meeting, is producing the kind of thought and consideration within government and the industry that will contribute to policies and practices that will advance this industry Ė and model for other parts of government, and indeed the global space community, the tremendous benefits to be gained from appropriate, effective, partnerships. I would also like to welcome and congratulate new COMSTAC members Mark Bitterman, beginning a full term in his own right after filling out the term of former COMSTAC chairman Ron Grabe in an interim capacity, Sam Boyd, Frank DiBello, John Perkins, Billie Reed, Noah Samara and John Vinter. I am confident that this will be one of the most important and, hopefully, meaningful duties you will ever perform.

Since Our Last Meeting

Much has happened since our last meeting in October.

A development of significance to the industry and this office, the report on the Future Management and Use of the U.S. Space Launch Bases and Ranges, lead by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Security Council, was released at our Third Annual Commercial Space Forecast Conference in February.

The outcome for AST thus far has been the strengthening of our partnership with the Air Force as we explore our dual roles in launch and range safety and how best to achieve the desired outcomes stated in the report of sharing more responsibility in this area. We are already engaged in a cooperative effort to develop common range safety standards for operations at both federal and commercial (non-federal) launch sites and to develop an FAA/Air Force Memorandum of Agreement to formalize our respective responsibilities for safety of space launch activities. The terms of reference have been drafted and are working their way through agency coordination.

On the down side, at the time of the last meeting we were facing the fallout of several failures, including the second loss of the new Delta III vehicle and its payload, and an unsuccessful launch of an Athena II in which the fairing failed to separate, causing a failure to achieve orbit and the loss of the payload. However, itís important to remember that over the past 10 years, the number of commercial space launches has tripled from an average of 12 per year from 1990 to 1994 to between 36 and 37 each of the past three years.

These failures, and the related stand-down of vehicles that used related components, have since been resolved, resulting in these vehicles having been returned to service. On Wednesday evening, May 24th, we witnessed the successful launch of the first flight of the new Lockheed Martin Atlas III vehicle carrying the Eutelsat W4 satellite from Cape Canaveral. On Wednesday Arianespace was wishing Lockheed Martin well and Thursday morning congratulating them on a successful launch. Congratulations, Lockheed Martin, and look out Ariane! You will hear later in this meeting what the latest forecasts of both GEO and LEO markets have to say about the future of the industry.

Those failures did result in a decrease in launches in 1999 to 17, certainly a disappointment after the record of 22 in the previous year, but hopefully we are back on track now. The 17 licensed launches included:

  • 14 launches for commercial clients worth $864 million,
  • Two launches for the U.S. Government worth $94 million,
  • One demonstration launch by Sea Launch, which did not generate any revenue.

Annual commercial launch revenues have grown by two thirds over the period from 1995 to 1999; 1995 revenues were about $1.3 billion U.S. dollars compared to $2.2 billion U.S. dollars in 1998, but are still lower than the high of $2.4 billion in 1997, due to the increase in the proportion of lower-cost NGSO launches.

Unfortunately, the industry suffered another

unsuccessful launch attempt earlier this year when the third launch of Sea Launch experienced an upper stage anomaly causing the first ICO satellite to fail to reach orbit. AST participated in the investigation that followed and the cause of the incident has now been agreed upon by all parties and the return of Sea Launch to service is expected soon.

The development of RLVs continues to be an area of intense activity and interest. In addition to the 11 RLV developers that we have been in pre-application consultation with, we are currently in consultation with a new entrant who has been in contact with us in the last several weeks.

Last October, I issued an invitation -- to our current "customers" in the RLV community and to old and new entities who might be coming to us in the future -- to bring your prospective funding sources -- your investors, your bankers or financial advisers -- to meet with us. I said we could brief them on how serious we are, how seriously we take your projects, and the role AST plays in the industry.

I regret to say that we have not seen a positive response to this invitation and I believe we are missing an opportunity here.

ASTís Regulatory Program

The Office continues to make great strides on the regulatory front. In March we broke new technical ground

in holding an Internet-based "virtual meeting" on exempted class launch vehicles in lieu of the more traditional Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) which would be issued on a subject such as this. This dealt with small scale, low performance and other types of vehicles not generally subject to our regulatory procedures.

This approach allowed us to reach out to the many geographically diverse interests, notably the many hobbyists and recreational rocketeers who might find it difficult to gather in one place for a traditional-type public meeting but are accustomed to going on-line to share ideas and concerns.

We are currently reviewing more than 300 comments e-mailed to us by those with an interest in this area and we are gaining important insights that might not otherwise have been brought to our attention. This virtual meeting was also the subject of a press release issued by the FAA noting that this was a "first" for the agency and speculating on its future as a valuable rulemaking tool throughout the FAA.

We expect to have final rules out on Licensing of Reentry Operations, Licensing of Commercial and State-owned Launch Sites and Financial Requirements for Reentry Operations before the end of this fiscal year. We also expect to have the NPRM for Licensing Operations at Non-federal Launch Sites out by the end of the fiscal year.

In addition, we have published a notice seeking comments on a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) identifying environmental impacts relating to known commercial launch vehicles. We believe this will give helpful guidance to those faced with undertaking an EIS related to launch or reentry activities, most especially since environmental factors weigh heavily in our licensing process.

What have been our activities on the international front?

Attending the International Space University (ISU) Symposium in Strasbourg, France, last week where I delivered a paper on the future of the commercial space market and where Ron Gress, ASTís chief of licensing and safety presented one on safety issues, I witnessed a tremendous amount of interest in RLV technology; lowering the cost of access to space in general; feasibility issues around space travelers and space tourism (one speaker suggested that companies and countries who donít heed consumer interest in going to space will suffer economically and reduce their societyís wealth); and agreement that demonstrated reliability and performance are drivers of industry growth.

There was general consensus that space transportation needs to be viewed as a long-term investment. Globalization of space is the trend and it is irreversible. Globalization of space will lead to a global society. Another consensus point was the belief that there is more competition than ever between satellite and terrestrial systems, requiring a faster competitive response from the launch side of the industry.

Speakers advanced the airport management model as the right model for space in the future, the feeling being that the public will only accept airport-like conditions where the public exists in the vicinity of launch sites. There was some interest in research and development to support common safety standards throughout the world that would relate to ELV and RLV operations to foster interchangeable opportunities, domestic and global, international cooperation and coordination.

Some postured that space launch is mature, but still fragile. Clearly, there is great interest in developments/activities in the U.S., ranging from vehicle development, particularly RLVs; approaches to licensing and regulation; and issues surrounding export controls and globalization/Outer Space Treaty Issues.

How surprised I was while there to be presented with a copy of a reprint from Fortune Magazine of an article on ISU graduates that talked about what they are doing now. Featured in the piece was our very own under-30 member, Roscoe Moore, III.

We continue to monitor the activities of Kistler Aerospace at Australiaís Woomera launch range, where it plans to carry out some of its early launches. Kistler also continues to pursue its U.S. agenda, and we recently published the draft environmental assessment and held meetings for public comment on its planned Nevada launch site.

Beal Aerospace continues to assess launch site possibilities, both offshore and at home. As you know, the Commercial Space Launch Act generally requires the FAA to license a launch by a citizen of the United States anywhere in the world; but when another nationís sovereign territory is involved, it is not so clear cut.

Planning is underway for our fourth annual conference on February 6 and 7, 2001, once again at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington. We invite your participation in the conference which grows in size and stature each year. I invite your input, suggestions and overall comment.

Please let us know if you have any subjects you think should be on the agenda or any speakers you think we should consider. Chuck Kline is your point of contact for the conference, and this year AST staff members Mishon Washington and Chuck Larsen will be even more fully involved in the planning and implementation of the conference.

Finally, I am pleased to join Steve in welcoming your vice chair, Livingston Holder, to the position of chair at the culmination of this meeting. I am looking forward to continuing to work with Livingston and with Steve in his new role as a COMSTAC member as we work together to address the various issues facing our industry. Thank you very much.