Arrival of Space Tourism Boosts US Rules for Inevitable Crashes | Business

WASHINGTON – US accident investigators preparing for rapid growth in space tourism from operators such as Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are formalizing accident investigation rules.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday released draft regulations that would create a formal framework for its authority and responsibilities in the event a civilian space launch results in an incident.

“When the NTSB conducted its first commercial space survey in the early 1990s, this sector was in its infancy,” NTSB President Jennifer Homendy said in a press release.

“As commercial space operations have grown exponentially since then, it has become increasingly important that in the event of an accident or incident, commercial space operators and industry stakeholders clearly know what procedures are in place to ensure the integrity of our security investigation, ”Homendy added.

This year, Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos both went to the edge of space on vehicles designed by their companies and the passengers included the Star Trek actor. William Shatner.

SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, also took civilians into space, launching a crew of four into orbit.

NTSB surveillance only applies to these civilian operations. NASA and Army spaceflight would continue to be subject to separate investigative surveillance.

The NTSB’s proposal would give it the power to lead civilian probes into space accidents and set rules for when operators must notify it of incidents and requirements to preserve the wreckage and records.

The regulations would codify the current role of the NTSB. He has investigated several incidents and accidents, such as the 2014 crash of a Virgin Galactic test flight that killed a pilot.

The public can comment on the proposal until January 18.

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