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29 July 2012
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16 July 2012
Space Future has been on something of a hiatus of late. With the concept of Space Tourism steadily increasing in acceptance, and the advances of commercial space, much of our purpose could be said to be achieved. But this industry is still nascent, and there's much to do. this space.
9 December 2010
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P Collins, May 1996, "The Regulatory Reform Agenda for the Era of Passenger Space Transportation", Proceedings of 20th ISTS, Paper No 96-f-13..
Also downloadable from regulatory reform agenda for the era of passenger space transportation.shtml

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The Regulatory Reform Agenda for the Era of Passenger Space Transportation

In order for reusable launch vehicles and orbital accommodation facilities to provide passenger services in space on a commercial basis, a number of regulatory changes are needed, both national and international. New rules are needed for certification of rocket-powered passenger vehicles and their operation and maintenance. In addition, space law today is based on cold-war treaties which are inappropriate for commercial activities. When the regulatory environment is made more attractive, companies will be able to plan commercial passenger services in space, gaining economic advantage for those countries which lead in these reforms.


Work aimed at establishing a space tourism industry which will enable the public to travel to and from space on a commercial basis has made good progress in the past few years, particularly in Japan, USA and Germany. The Japanese Rocket Society ( JRS) is now in the 4th year of its Space Tourism Study Program, having published a series of papers on the design and operation of the " Kankoh-maru" VTOL passenger launch vehicle (1, 2, 3, 4). Reports are now under preparation on the development and manufacturing of Kankoh-maru, and on its commercial operation. In 1996 the JRS has initiated a series of Rocket Symposiums to consider further the design requirements of rocket vehicles to be used for space tourism as identified in this study program. Through this work it is intended to shift the paradigm of rockets definitively from being thought of as expendable missiles to being seen as reusable passenger vehicles.

Since 1993 also, in a parallel activity, market research has been performed in Japan, Canada and USA, revealing that space tourism is a popular aspiration of the majority of the population in the rich countries, and could become a major commercial market for space activities (5). Most recently the possible development of space tourism beyond low Earth orbit to higher orbits, and thence to lunar orbit and the lunar surface has started to receive attention (6).

In 1994 an alliance of six major US aerospace companies published a report on potential future launch markets including space tourism (7). In 1995 the Space Transportation Association (STA) announced the start of a formal study of space tourism with cooperation from NASA (8). And in 1996 the "X" Prize of 510 million has been announced for the first team to fly a vehicle carrying two passengers safely and repeatedly to 100 km altitude (9), generating increased media interest in the subject of space tourism.

In 1995 market research on the potential demand for space tourism services was carried out in Berlin, the first such research in Europe, which showed that space tourism could also become a major market in Europe (5). And in 1996 the first International Symposium on Space Tourism is to be held in Bremen to bring together commercial tourism interests and aerospace industry representatives.

Developing the vehicles needed for space tourism, whether vertical take-off or horizontal take-off, is a great engineering challenge, involving developing re-usable rocket engines with low maintenance costs, light-weight robust vehicle structures, and low-cost operations procedures. However, it is also an institutional challenge, since it will require extensive innovation in applicable regulations and law, both national and international, in a government-dominated field that has changed little during the decades of the cold war.

Need for regulatory reform

In contrast to the early unregulated days of aviation, activities in both the atmosphere and space are governed today by a complex regulatory framework which does not permit commercial passenger flights. For example, under existing space law the government is liable for damage caused by all launches from their territory. This is quite different from the situation of other international transport industries, such as shipping and air transport. These too are governed by a comprehensive framework of national and international law, but it is primarily commercial law, supported where necessary by international treaties. By contrast, space law comprises inter-governmental treaties negotiated during the cold war.

It is increasingly recognised that this regulatory environment needs to be reformed. Prof Reynolds of the University of Tennessee has stated "For decades, all space activity was undertaken by governments, leading to the creation of institutional structures, bureaucratic cultures, and ways of doing business that are poorly adapted to the commercial marketplace. In trying to promote the growth of commercial space industries, the US government must overcome these built-in biases, and encourage the formation of new structures and cultures that are well-suited to the realities of the commercial marketplace" (10). US Congressman Robert Walker stated "Most of our laws and regulations governing space activity were written to make it easier for government to function in space. Now we need to make it easier for the private sector to undertake space development" (11).

The creation of an attractive regulatory environment is therefore needed to enable operating companies to plan passenger services and place orders for the vehicles which they require, and for manufacturers to finalise vehicle design details and raise the investment which they need in order to put the vehicles into production. This requires regulatory innovation over a wide range of fields, as discussed in the following.


In order to be commercially viable passenger vehicles must provide flights to and from orbit on a large scale, and should therefore be able to operate from existing airports. However, in order for rocket-powered vehicles, whether VTOL or HTOL, to operate from existing airports there is a need for innovations in a number of systems including take-off and landing facilities and procedures, cryogenic propellant facilities, passenger handling facilities, noise regulations, and other areas. The JRS study on operating Kankoh-maru from airports concluded that "...there will be no substantial difficulty for airports to be used for space tourism vehicles" (4).

Cryogenic Propellants

Kankoh-maru and many other re-usable launch vehicles are designed to use cryogenic propellants, which require different handling procedures from kerosene, gasoline and other fuels. Liquid hydrogen has been studied for some years in both the automobile and aviation industries as a potential fuel in the future (12), and a range of trials have been carried out. After reviewing this work, Naruo concluded that the automobile and aircraft industries are "far in advance" of the space industry (13). In this matter the futuristic image of the space industry is misleading; it is in fact old-fashioned in its procedures compared to industries which face daily competitive pressure from the needs of mass consumer markets. If space activities are to become commercial, as governments frequently state is their objective, then the companies responsible for them must copy the leading industries and achieve at least their level of productivity. And in order to achieve this, appropriate deregulation is needed, as discussed below.


Although rocket engines make more noise than jet engines, passenger flights will be much fewer, making the nuisance proportionately less, as recognised by the units widely used for quantifying airport noise, WECPNL (Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level). Based on preliminary study of two off-shore airports in Japan, it is believed that during take-off Kankoh-maru would exceed current allowable noise-levels in certain limited areas (4). As a result, research to develop quieter rocket engines for commercial passenger and cargo vehicles was identified as an important new direction for rocket research.

As passenger flights of rocket vehicles become more frequent, it can be expected that they will be required to be less noisy, as happened with jet transports. However, we can also expect appropriate new technology to be developed in order to satisfy this requirement, as has happened with jet engines over the decades of their use.


At a traffic rate of even one million passengers per year, traffic to and from orbit will still be less than 0.1% of the number of air travellers, and so only a small number of airports will need to handle launch vehicles -though more may choose to do so in order to gain commercial benefits. It is desirable for case studies to be carried Out on a number of international airports, in order to identify the most promising candidates to become future "aero-spaceports".


In order for rocket vehicles to be certified to carry passengers there is a need for regulatory innovation. The existing aviation regulatory authorities have many decades of experience of vehicle certification in a commercial context, both national and international, and would seem to be well-suited to performing this task, as a natural extension to their work concerning aeroplanes, helicopters and other vehicles. In order to extend existing aviation regulations to apply to launch-vehicles, appropriate rules concerning vehicle structural integrity and damage tolerance, fire-suppression systems, passenger evacuation standards, maintenance procedures and other matters must be developed.

In order to develop appropriate certification procedures, a committee needs to be established including representatives of both the regulatory authorities and interested companies including manufacturers and operators, related activities such as insurance and investment, and other independent experts such as safety experts and fire service representatives. A new vehicle such as Kankoh-maru poses interesting new tasks requiring innovation. For example it is necessary to think through the flight test programs needed for certification. By analogy with aircraft it seems likely that these vehicles will be required to perform some hundreds of progressive engine-tests and test-flights, but the precise sequence, and the precise performance required remain to be decided.

Another example is the ability to land safely in the event of engine failures in any phase of flight. In contrast to aircraft, the quickest way for a rocket to dump fuel is through the engine. Consequently the appropriate requirement for the ability to dump fuel in emergencies will probably be to be able to continue in hovering flight using the sound engines for a specified number of minutes before landing.

Another novel aspect is fire safety. Hydrogen fires have different physical characteristics from kerosene fires, and appropriate standards will need to take this into account. Studies have already been made of the use of liquid hydrogen fuel at airports, and it is considered that satisfactory engineering solutions are available for all requirements (12).

Staff training and licensing

Procedures will also be needed for training, testing and licensing of pilots, cabin crew, maintenance staff and others. Again, existing commercial aviation procedures seem to provide the best model for the required systems, and could readily be extended to cover this new category of vehicle. The role that existing government space agencies‘ may play in this work is discussed below.


This field is currently undergoing rapid change as authorities around the world work to implement new-generation systems using OPS, GLONASS and other navigation satellites. Passenger launch vehicles travelling to and from orbit will clearly need to be integrated into these air traffic management systems. Among other things this will require determining standard flight-paths between the orbits and airports used for passenger services, and determining appropriate in-flight separation rules for these new categories of vehicle.

In particular, both when launching to a particular orbital position and when returning from orbit it will be impractical for launch-vehicles to carry sufficient propellant to enable them to change course substantially. Consequently a system is needed that will permit them to take-off and land within narrow, guaranteed time-slots of only a few seconds. This will require adjustment of existing procedures for using air-lanes, as has happened in the past to accommodate new types of aircraft. For example procedures were altered to permit supersonic Concorde aircraft to descend rapidly from high altitude in emergencies. Thus, although the operation of passenger-carrying rockets may require some adaptation of present day air traffic management systems, it is not an unreasonable evolution, and should be able to be accommodated. The committee to develop the appropriate procedures and agreements will need to include representatives of air traffic control authorities, airlines, airport authorities, operating companies, aviation safety experts and others.

Sub-orbital rocket transport

Another use of rocket-powered vehicles, which was first discussed several decades ago, will be sub-orbital transport of passengers and cargo, providing a high-speed service between designated sites on the Earth‘s surface (14, 15, 16). The commercial feasibility of such activities will be improved by the demand for passenger travel to orbit using essentially the same vehicles, which will spread the development costs of sub-orbital rocket transport vehicles over a much wider market than only the small market for high-speed international travel. Like orbital flight, sub-orbital transport services will also require innovation in air traffic management procedures.


The Warsaw Convention is an international private law treaty which played a historic role in helping to establish international air travel by limiting airlines‘ liability for damages in the event of injuries, and by establishing a uniform international system. This enabled insurance companies to tackle a new field of international passenger and cargo transportation with confidence.

Today the limitation of liability included in the treaty is controversial and frequently challenged in law, since the level of damages receivable in other areas of life has grown much higher. It has also become unnecessary in many countries because, as airline operating experience has accumulated, reliability has increased greatly and the statistical risks are known much more precisely. Consequently airlines and insurance companies in these countries no longer need the protection of limited liability. Recently Japanese companies took the initiative of repudiating the limitation of liability. This step has been widely applauded: "...Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airlines, the other Japanese airlines, and the Japanese government are to be congratulated, to be utterly commended for doing a remarkably sensible thing" (17), although it remains controversial, and other countries have not yet followed Japan‘s example (18).

Like air travel, space passenger services, both transport and accommodation, will certainly need insurance. And as with new aircraft, insurance companies‘ confidence concerning the scale of the risks involved in the new services will depend on achieving agreed standards. In its early stages, the small scale of the space travel industry and the limited statistical base for insurance calculations make it possible that limitation of liability may also be considered desirable. That is, the objective risks may be no higher than aviation, but the data will not be sufficient to permit calculation with high confidence. Thus it has been suggested that ".. .if tourism is to become a vital part of the commercial space equation, limits on liability for the owners and operators of space facilities and vehicles will be a necessity" (19).

A key difference between the proposed space travel services and scheduled aviation today is scale. A scale of activity that is almost unimaginably large for most space industry people, say 1 million passengers per year, is trivially small by airline standards, less than 0.1% of their annual traffic. For many airlines, abandoning the Warsaw‘ limitation of liability is natural today, in view of the huge accumulated experience on which standards and procedures are based, and on which insurance premiums can be accurately assessed statistically; and in view of the large scale of activities which provide the funds needed to generate large insurance capacity. Thus, alternatively, insurance companies may include space travel within their global aviation insurance capacity, since the scale of activity and so the scale of any claims will be relatively small.

It should be noted that limiting the liability of carriers for injuries, as under the Warsaw Convention, need in no way deter customers. Risks will in any case have to be objectively small or the service will not be acceptable, and passengers with financial responsibilities, such as those supporting families, will be free to buy additional insurance. If it is decided that there is a need for limitation of liability, the need for it will decline as statistics accumulate and risks can be assessed with greater confidence, as has happened in aviation.

An interesting aspect of the Warsaw Convention is that it is a private law treaty, although it has features which are binding on governments. Negotiated internationally as private law, it provided a detail framework for international cooperation in aviation services that has been largely satisfactory for more than 60 years. Thus (he Warsaw Convention seems an encouraging precedent for the legal innovation that is needed to make space activities commercially feasible. Indeed, it has been proposed that a space law agreement based on the Warsaw Convention is desirable (19).

The subject of liability clearly raises interesting legal issues, and needs to be considered by a committee comprising representatives of the transport ministry, construction ministry, potential operating companies, insurance companies, hotel and travel companies, manufacturers, investors, aviation and space lawyers, and other experts.


Market research has shown that most potential customers for space tourism services wish to stay in orbit for a few days or longer. Consequently, in order for the market for space tourism to reach it‘s full potential, there is a need for accommodation facilities in orbit. The JRS study is considering a scenario in which 8 Kankoh-maru vehicles are produced and put into operation each year. This leads to passenger numbers growing by some 100,000 each year. If passengers stay in orbit for even 2 or 3 days on average, the required accommodation capacity rapidly reaches a scale of several thousand guests. Design studies have begun on the high-cost, small-scale, upper end of the market for orbital accommodation (20). There is also a need for studies on larger-scale facilities to accommodate hundreds or even thousands of guests simultaneously.

In order to obtain insurance for orbital accommodation facilities, it will be necessary to establish building codes, covering such matters as fire safety standards, emergency procedures, reliability of atmosphere control systems throughout the facility, reliability of intelligent control systems for external doors, security systems, definition and granting of operating licences, and other matters.

As rocket vehicles are different from aircraft, so orbital accommodation will differ significantly from terrestrial facilities. For example, in terrestrial hotels and other commercial buildings fire safety standards require the ability to evacuate the building within a defined length of time, and they define minimum numbers of exits, their size, accessibility and other factors. However, the physical conditions of orbital accommodation are different, and consequently, rather than simple evacuation a more appropriate requirement would be to able to provide secure shelter to all guests and staff in the event of fire or other emergencies. Such a shelter would need the capability of autonomous atmosphere control, life support, communications and external access (21).

The appropriate length of time for which shelter would be required will depend on factors such as the frequency of flights to and from Earth, the ease of diverting flights to and from other destinations, the size of the facility relative to the size of the vehicles, and others. These requirements will change as the scale of orbital activities increases, and will include such matters as multiple shelter zones, internal signs to the nearest shelter, and others.

As with construction on Earth, regulations will be necessary to give the insurance industry the confidence that they need in order to be able to generate sufficient insurance capacity. The committee responsible for thinking through the necessary safety standards and developing these regulations will need to comprise representatives from the construction ministry and transport ministry, and companies in the construction industry, hotel industry, travel industry, insurance industry and related activities such as fire services and aviation safety. The potential role to be played by government space agencies is discussed below.


Today there are both national and international laws relating to space activities. In order to encourage commercial operation of passenger launch vehicles, changes at both the national and international levels will be required. Such aspects of current-day space law as government responsibility for damage by launch vehicles launched from their territory, the need to register all launches with the UN, and the need to treat all space travellers as "envoys of mankind", are impractical for commercial space travel, and are ripe for revision to become practical commercial procedures. This objective should therefore be put on the agenda wherever space law and international law are discussed, such as at meetings of the International Institute for Space Law. These matters have been under discussion for some years already (22), but moves should be made to bring them to a conclusion. It is desirable for space law experts in different countries to prepare revisions of existing treaties that will facilitate commercial activities. And as seen above, the Warsaw Convention is a good example of effective private law facilitating the creation of a major international commercial industry.

Space Debris

As space activities increase, the risk of damage caused by space debris increases. From a statistical viewpoint, large permanent space facilities such as orbital accommodation face proportionately higher risks than launch vehicles which remain on orbit for only a few hours at a time. Thus in order to reduce the risks of collision damage to orbital accommodation to an acceptable level it will be necessary to actively remove space debris. This has been studied for some years already, and will become economically feasible once low-cost reusable launch vehicles are in routine commercial operation. This in turn will make it feasible to introduce legal liability for damage caused by debris, as will eventually be required in order to make space travel as practical as other forms of travel (23).


As the cold-war and its imperatives pass into history, there is debate about the proper role of government space agencies. Space science is a form of basic research activity which seems appropriate for government funding on a par with other scientific research. However, for government organizations to develop vehicles and equipment and to perform space activities conflicts with the role of stimulating the growth of commercial space activities by creating taxpayer-supported competition for commercial companies.

By contrast to development or operations, performing research in order to improve the performance of national space transportation industries, analogous to the role of national aviation research activities, is a relatively uncontroversial role. For example, the US National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) which was established in 1915 did valuable research on airfoils, engine cowlings, icing and other problems of concern to aircraft designers and operators. But in 1958 NACA was absorbed into NASA which was established to compete with the government space activities of the former Soviet Union by carrying out space operations. This cold-war pattern of activity has continued for nearly 40 years, but it has been much less effective in promoting commercialization in astronautics than the earlier pattern in aeronautics. Research on such topics as safety of reusable rocket vehicles, and rocket-engine noise reduction would be very valuable in facilitating the development of a vigorous commercial passenger space transportation industry, and could become a core activity of reformed government space organizations.

From the discussion in previous sections it might be expected that government space agencies would play a major role in establishing standards and regulations needed to give commercial insurance companies the confidence to handle the risks involved. However, this poses a serious problem as the space agencies are currently structured, since the function of regulation is incompatible with both development and with operations. Through long experience in the early days of aviation it was learned that the regulatory function must be entirely independent of these activities. The problems of development and operation being performed by the same (government) organization that was responsible for regulation were learned tragically in the early days of aviation (24). Where the regulatory function is not independent it is ineffective either in preserving safety or in encouraging new development and commercialization (24). As a result, government organizations ceased to develop aircraft. It is clear that the same course must be followed in the space industry.

The regulatory function will of course draw on the accumulated experience of space flight which resides within space agency staff, past and present. However, the agencies‘ experience is not as relevant as might be thought. For example, most experience to date of operating rocket engines concerns expendable engines that are used only once. Establishing procedures for operating reusable launch vehicles is therefore likely to draw as much or more on airlines‘ experience of operating jet engines as on space agencies‘ experience.

It is also notable that because of space agencies‘ focus on scientific research and long-term space flight, their experience of crewed space activities is mostly different from that which will be involved in commercial tourism. For example they have done little medical research relevant to tourism other than making the basic finding that living in micro-gravity for periods of a few days poses no health problems. (Acceleration of a few gravities for a few minutes is well-known to pose no stress to people in a supine position). In addition they have done little research on average people in ordinary states of health, or on the treatment of day-to-day ailments in orbit such as colds, influenza, over-indulgence in alcohol, and minor injuries, which are typical of medical problems attended to in hotels. And nor have they performed trials in orbit of many common medications that will be used in orbiting hotels. Consequently, unless government agencies change their current research agendas in order to play a major role, they may not be much involved in the development of popular space travel and the opening of the space frontier to the general public.

In the future we can perhaps foresee the restructuring of space agencies into three parts: a scientific research function to be funded through normal scientific research funding channels; a technology research support function (similar to the original NACA); and any remaining activities may be privatized. Above all, the regulatory function for space activities must be as independent of organizations which develop or operate space vehicles and equipment as present-day aviation authorities are from aircraft and equipment manufacturers and operators.


Many of the changes described above involve developing new regulations, but some involve relaxing existing regulations to stimulate new economic activity. Deregulation is currently a popular theme in other business sectors, and it can play a useful role in stimulating new activities. However, the process of deregulation is often difficult because there may be strong existing commercial interests that could be adversely affected by the results of deregulation - for example by the creation of new competitors, or reduction of market prices. Companies, politicians and bureaucrats may therefore resist deregulation by various means, preventing it, delaying it, limiting its scope, and so on. And indeed, to the extent that companies are adversely affected, society may face significant costs of industrial restructuring, at least in the short term. This may be particularly so in the case of international deregulation, which may lead to significant reduction of economic activity in a whole industrial sector in one or more countries, and hence significant social costs of writing off past investments.

Fortunately the case of developing a passenger space transportation industry is relatively simple in this respect, since there are no major commercial interests that might be adversely affected. That is, government space agencies‘ role may become less publicly prominent, and companies to which these agencies pass contracts may receive less business through the agencies. However, apart from some satellite applications, space agencies‘ activities are not profitable in any country; they represent a net cost to taxpayers of some $20 billion per year; and nor is it expected that they will become profitable for decades to come. Consequently, deregulation which facilitates the creation of commercially profitable space activities will not impose costs on society; on the contrary, to the extent that such activities render government-funded space expenditure unnecessary, for example by providing low-cost launch services, they will reduce costs to tax-payers. In addition they will generate many economic benefits.

One important reason for some existing regulations is the maintenance of public safety, and this is of course of great importance. However, there seems no reason to doubt that the safety of passenger-carrying rocket vehicles can reach acceptable levels, through following normal engineering procedures under a system patterned on commercial aviation. We may therefore hope to see deregulation in this field take place relatively speedily, since it offers the possibility of creating a lively new field of international business activity, with very little "downside" in terms of disrupting existing business.

Despite the lack of economic reasons to resist deregulation in this case, we can nevertheless expect resistance through inertia of the regulatory bodies and other organisations concerned - not least since some of the regulations that require revision are the result of international treaties. In principle, changing national regulations should be easier than international laws. However, it may still have an international aspect, since some of these regulations, such as prohibitions on trade in rockets, may have been agreed in order to prevent the spread of military technology. Nevertheless, in the present international climate, the revision of these regulations as required for the purpose of establishing commercial space travel services is clearly acceptable in principle.

Public funding

An important question in considering the reforms discussed above concerns the source of funding to bring about these regulatory innovations. Government, that is tax-payer funding is appropriate for two main reasons. First, market research shows that travel to and from low Earth orbit is a very popular idea for a majority of the population (in contrast to the weak support shown for government space activities). Second, providing a supportive environment for operators and manufacturers of reusable launch vehicles will be a major way for a country to obtain a competitive advantage in the vigorous new field of economic growth that is expected to develop from commercial passenger space transportation.

As an example, regulations governing the handling of liquid hydrogen, such as the maximum size of container that is allowed, are much stricter in Japan than in some other countries, and liquid hydrogen is much more expensive than in other countries. If these regulations are not reconsidered and changed appropriately, Japanese companies would be unable to compete with companies from other countries in the field of space transportation, and Japan would be unable to participate fully in the commercial exploitation of space.

In each of the areas discussed above - operation of rocket vehicles from airports, vehicle certification, design of orbital hotels - various different regulatory bodies have important roles to play. The environment for initiation of space tourism services today is very different from that for the initiation of aviation services early this century. In particular, aviation (which includes the atmospheric portion of a flight to orbit) is highly regulated. Unless the existing regulatory bodies do the necessary background research and create an accommodating environment, this new field of business activity cannot start.

Consequently the fundamental incentive for regulatory bodies to tackle this task is international economic competition. Countries which participate in a profitable space tourism industry will play a leading role in the business of providing reliable, low-cost access to space, and in the new commercial space activities that will arise from this. And in order to achieve this, the creation of an encouraging regulatory environment is as essential as is the development of the technology required, and the articulation of market demand.

Institutional and bureaucratic change are difficult, but countries in which government organisations resist making appropriate changes will fail in this new economic race. For example, the phenomenon of "Euro-sclerosis" is well-recognised, and is responsible for large economic costs to EU countries through unemployment and lost economic growth. Where de-regulation is occurring, companies are becoming more internationally competitive. However, the policy that no launch vehicle other than the expendable "Ariane" is needed in Europe until 2015-2020 can be seen as an example of "Euro-sclerosis". If this policy were to continue, it would exclude EU countries from profiting from this new field of commercial activity.

In order for companies to be able to compete effectively in providing space travel services, their home countries must create an attractive environment for these services to grow in. For these reasons the use of government expenditure to achieve the needed regulatory reforms will be economically beneficial, as well as popular. Having the objective of establishing a major and popular new field of commercial activity in space, the regulatory work outlined here poses many unusual and interesting challenges for bureaucrats in different fields, and provides opportunities for effective innovative thinking, as well as having wide-ranging international aspects. Such work is likely to be particularly popular with younger staff, and to bring Out their best, which should also help to spur the subject forward.


It is gradually becoming accepted that expendable launch vehicles are a dead end‘ and cannot open the new frontier of space. As the understanding spreads that reusable launch vehicles are essential in order to make large-scale space activities commercially feasible, attention has turned to potential uses of reusable vehicles that could grow to a large scale, and to the requirements for their profitable operation.

As discussed above, the objective of providing commercial passenger services in space to large numbers of the public raises a wide range of interesting new regulatory issues in many different fields. These require serious efforts to resolve, but they will open unlimited new fields for economic growth (25). They also provide interesting challenges to the bureaucrats responsible for these areas who have the vision to see the economically and culturally invigorating influence which successful innovation will bring.

The discussion on how best to regulate this new field of activity requires continuing dialogue between the companies interested in manufacturing and operating the vehicles and equipment needed, the governmental and regulatory bodies concerned, insurance companies, investors and a range of independent experts. Until appropriate reforms are on the agenda, space activities will remain a small-scale, high-cost government activity, and the enormous potential for development of new industries in space will remain unexploited - at great cost in lost economic growth.

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P Collins, May 1996, "The Regulatory Reform Agenda for the Era of Passenger Space Transportation", Proceedings of 20th ISTS, Paper No 96-f-13..
Also downloadable from regulatory reform agenda for the era of passenger space transportation.shtml

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