STUDENT ROB LEI
Identify and describe current FAA pilot and medical certification requirements for civil spacecraft flight crewmembers and state whether you consider these adequate to assure flight safety, explaining your reasoning.
Commercial space flight is a burgeoning new private sector industry, with some of the key players being Virgin Galactic, Space X, and Blue Horizon. While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) controls the airspace above the United States, how do they interact with spaceflight crewmembers?
The US Congress has empowered the FAA to protect the safety of the public, both on the ground and while utilizing the National Airspace System (Federal Aviation Administration, 2022). With the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004, the FAA amended the rules to align with their new authority (Curtis, n.d.). Since 2004 Congress prohibited the FAA from regulating the safety of onboard individuals and has extended it three times since then (Federal Aviation Administration, 2022). To better understand requirements, we will define terms, such as crew, flight crew, pilot, and participant.
The crew is any employee or independent contractor who is involved in the activities directly relating to the launch and reentry of spaceflight missions, whether they be ground-based or onboard (Federal Aviation Administration, 2022).
The flight crew is the crew onboard the space vehicle during launch and reentry (Federal Aviation Administration, 2022). Flight crew members have different requirements, but must have current medical certificates within one year, must be physically and mentally able to perform their safety-related roles, and be trained to ensure the spacecraft will not cause harm to the public (Curtis, n.d.).
Pilots are the crew members that have real-time control of the space vehicle during launch and reentry (Federal Aviation Administration, 2022). In the US, to serve as a pilot you must hold a valid current FAA airman medical certificate (Hamilton & Nilsson, 2020). To serve as a pilot onboard a spacecraft, pilots must have the appropriate FAA pilot certificate and be able to show that they know how to operate their spacecraft (Curtis, n.d.). While pilots have one set of requirements, there are requirements for everyone on board the spacecraft.
Spaceflight participants or passengers are anyone, not the crew that is on board the launch or reentry vehicle (Federal Aviation Administration, 2022). Passengers have the most relaxed standards as they are not required to have physicals, however, they are required to be shown how to respond during emergencies and how to evacuate the vehicle safely (Curtis, n.d.).
A better understanding of the terms and requirements for each position is important to understand the process. While spaceflight is inherently dangerous, I think that the requirements put in place by the FAA are sufficient. They require pilots to be medically fit and to show they can operate the vehicle they will pilot. Congress has limited the ability of the FAA to micromanage spaceflight and I think that is why the requirements may not be stricter. At this moment, the industry is still growing and is needed for further development, and Congress does not want that hindered. By requiring similar requirements to general aviation, pilots can move from aviation to spaceflight with minimal requirements. This will help the industry to grow and be profitable in the future.
Curtis, A. R. (n.d.). Requirements for Human Spaceflight Crew and Passengers. Space today online – FAA requirements for crew and passengers of human space flights. http://www.spacetoday.org/Astronauts/HumanSpaceFlightRequirements.htmlLinks to an external site.
Federal Aviation Administration. (2022, May 17). Human spaceflight. Human Spaceflight. https://www.faa.gov/space/human_spaceflightLinks to an external site.
Hamilton, J. S., & Nilsson, S. (2020). Practical Aviation & Aerospace law. Aviation Supplies & Academics.
STUDENT MIL IWA
I chose Topic #1 for my discussion post:
Identify the international treaties currently in effect relating to the exploration and use of space and space objects (including the moon, asteroids, and other celestial bodies), and:
Describe the legal principles agreed to by the parties in each treaty.
The major International Treaty in regard to space operations is the “Outer Space Treaty” or also formerly known as “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space” (J Scott Hamilton & Nilsson, 2020). This treaty was originally established 1967 by the Russian Federation, United States and United Kingdom before becoming international law in 1967. This treaty had 3 major components and they are as follows:
Exploration and use of Outer Space was done with the betterment and interests of all mankind. Not just the nation conducting such activities.
Free to exploration by all nations.
Outer Space cannot be owned or controlled by any single nation.
Found on page 529 of the text (J Scott Hamilton & Nilsson, 2020).
While these were the three main components, the treaty also had other a few other features. To include, no Nuclear or weapons of mass destruction in outer space. The moon and any other space related bodies only be used for peaceful purposes. Also, all astronauts should be considered envoys of mankind (J Scott Hamilton & Nilsson, 2020).
The last three important aspects were in regard to liability for nations performing space activities. These were that nations take responsibility of space activities conducted under their scope. Nations would be considered liable for damages caused by their space objects. Lastly, nations should avoid contamination of space and all its related entities (J Scott Hamilton & Nilsson, 2020).
Other noteworthy space law:
The Rescue Agreement: An agreement among all nations to put forth maximum effort in rescuing any astronaut in need and returning them to their sponsoring nation.
The Moon Agreement: An agreement in which the US is not signatory of. Was developed by the UN stating that all celestial bodies are used for peaceful purposes, and any resources mined on the moon, shall be governed by an international entity.
Liability Convention: An agreement establishing that a sponsoring nation is responsible for any damages caused by their space objects.
The Registration Convention: An agreement that allow the Un Secretary-General to hold a register of all space objects.
These were found on the spacefoundation.org (International Space Law, n.d.).
Analyze how one such treaty applies to a specific current or proposed future commercial activity in space.
These treaties are created with the sole purpose of making space peaceful. The idea is to prevent any nation from own the endlessness that encapsulates space and prevents any nation from using space for their own personal gain over other nations.
Evaluate whether the treaty and its principles:
Provide adequate guidance to proponents of that commercial activity as to how their activities must be conducted.
One of the noteworthy things to be discussed when speaking of Commercial Space Flight is “The Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984”. This law allows the Department of Transportation and FAA to “oversee, authorize and regulate both launches and re-entries when carried out by US Citizens or within the United States” (J Scott Hamilton & Nilsson, 2020). The components that make up Commercial Space Flight are space tourism (space tourists, space habitats, and nonfederal spaceports), commercial launch services and mining minerals from near-Earth asteroids.
Unduly restrict the scope or nature of that commercial activity.
These laws ultimately restrict people performing space related exercises to still be governed under their sponsoring nation despite navigating a place not owned by any single nation.
Provide hyperlinks to online references relied on.
International Space Law. (n.d.). Space Foundation. https://www.spacefoundation.org/space_brief/international-space-law/Links to an external site.
J Scott Hamilton, & Nilsson, S. (2020). Practical aviation & aerospace law. Aviation Supplies & Academics, Inc