The Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) was established in 1984 as part of the Office of the Secretary of Transportation within the Department of Transportation (DOT). In November 1995, AST was transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the FAA's only space-related line of business. AST was established to:
- Regulate the U.S. commercial space transportation industry, to ensure compliance with international obligations of the United States, and to protect the public health and safety, safety of property, and national security and foreign policy interests of the United States;
- Encourage, facilitate, and promote commercial space launches and reentries by the private sector;
- Recommend appropriate changes in Federal statutes, treaties, regulations, policies, plans, and procedures; and
- Facilitate the strengthening and expansion of the United States space transportation infrastructure.
AST manages its licensing and regulatory work as well as a variety of programs and initiatives to ensure the health and facilitate the growth of the U.S. commercial space transportation industry through the Office of the Associate Administrator along with its five divisions: the Space Transportation Development Division, the Licensing and Evaluation Division, the Regulations and Analysis Division, the Safety Inspection Division, and the Operations Integration Division.