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International Affairs

Opportunities for Cooperation

The advancement of commercial space transportation capabilities presents a unique set of global challenges for the U.S. commercial space transportation industry and the Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), leading to opportunities for international cooperation. In response to these challenges and opportunities, the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) established a Commercial Space Transportation International Outreach program in 2008.

The focus of this program is to foster a common understanding of and approach to developing internationally consistent safety principles and procedures for commercial launch and reentry and spaceport operations. Specifically, Commercial Space Transportation is promoting its regulations and best practices to increase interoperability with countries interested in developing new spaceports, hosting U.S. commercial launch vehicles, and/or developing national frameworks (legislation and regulations) for commercial space transportation.

The FAA welcomes the opportunity to discuss its commercial space regulations with international government entities. Reasons for cooperating with FAA could include: interoperability (i.e., compatibility with FAA regulations); accommodation of new commercial spaceports, expendable and reusable vehicles; privatization of existing vehicles; development of commercial human space flight; development and implementation of national frameworks; best practices; and to learn from US experience.

DOT/FAA has licensed over 300 commercial launches since 1989 by a diverse US industry from multiple U.S. and international locations.

In the future, Commercial Space Transportation envisions the potential for suborbital commercial human spaceflight to grow beyond local flights into point-to-point regional and intercontinental travel. Effective growth in this area will require coordination among countries to establish a common foundation of safety and ensure interoperability. Commercial Space Transportation looks forward to working with international partners for this new era of commercial space transportation.

For countries interested in attracting U.S. vehicles, it is important to note that when operating outside the U.S., any commercial entity organized under U.S. law must obtain an FAA license and comply with FAA regulations.

Outreach Activities

For international outreach efforts, Commercial Space Transportation works in concert with the FAA Office of International Affairs (API) to benefit from API's global presence and leadership in the development of international aviation standards, technical assistance, training, and agreements. The FAA also works with the Department of State.

The Office of Commercial Space Transportation has engaged in discussions with representatives from several countries and organizations including: Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Japan, Italy, Singapore, Curacao, the European Union (European Aviation Safety Agency), United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Germany, and Brazil.

In addition, Commercial Space Transportation has presented papers at international conferences and symposia and Commercial Space Transportation staff also chair the Commercial Spaceflight Safety Committee and the Entrepreneurship and Investment Committee within the International Astronautical Federation. The committees facilitate the exchange of information to assist government and industry partners in planning for domestic and international activities.

For additional information about the Commercial Space Transportation International Outreach program, contact:

John Sloan
Program Lead for International Outreach
FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST)
(202) 267-7989

International Memoranda of Cooperation


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