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June 22, 2021

FAA and DAF enter MoA for launch and re-entry activity on USAF bases

The MoA applies to licenced launch and re-entry activities on Cape Canaveral SFS and Vandenberg SFB.

The US Department of the Air Force (DAF) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) on commercial space activities in Florida and California in the US.

Signed on 15 June, the agreement is aimed at protecting public safety during commercial space activities at ranges operated by the US Space Force (USSF).

The MoA recognises general safety standards for FAA-licenced launch and re-entry activities that ‘occur on, originate from, or return to’ Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) in Florida and Vandenberg Space Force Base (VSFB) in California.

VSFB and CCSFS have four FAA-licenced commercial space transportation companies that are authorised to conduct launch operations.

Furthermore, the agreement removes ‘duplicative processes and approvals’ for the commercial space sector in the US.

USAF acting secretary John Roth said: “Assured access to space is vital to our national security.

“The launch licensing standards provided in the agreement will support a rapidly expanding commercial launch sector and strengthen our space industrial base, bolstering our economy and enhancing our security as a nation.”

Under the commercial space agreement, the FAA will accept the USAF’s ground safety rules and other safety processes, analyses and products that are in line with the FAA regulations.

The USAF will accept the licencing decisions of the FAA and mostly strive not to impose its own requirements for the flight part of a launch or re-entry.

Both the FAA and USAF will consult with each other before responding to ‘commercial space operator requests’ for relief from safety requirements.

FAA administrator Steve Dickson said: “Building a streamlined regulatory approach for commercial space activities at these federal launch sites is the right thing to do for public safety and US competitiveness.

“This agreement will help the burgeoning US commercial space industry grow even faster and continue to lead the world in safety and innovation.”

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