AST, runs the FAA's only space-related line of business. AST is the sole office in the U.S.
Government responsible for licensing, regulating and promoting the burgeoning U.S. commercial launch
industry. Created in 1984, the office licensed its first commercial launch five years later. Since
then, it has licensed more than 167 commercial launches.
Last year, the office approved the world's first license for a sub orbital rocket flight to Scaled
Composites, LLC of California. The company, run by aviation record-holder Burt Rutan, went on to win
the Ansari X Prize - a $10 million award for launching a vehicle capable of carrying three people to
an altitude of 62.5 miles, returning safely, and repeating the flight with the same vehicle within
While the X Prize is the Super Bowl of commercial space launches, dozens of commercial space
endeavors operate outside of the limelight. According to AST, commercial space transportation and
related industries, such as satellite imagery and communication, were responsible for more than $95
billion in economic activity in 2002. In fiscal year 2004, launch revenue alone was about $585
million - a jump of almost nine percent from the previous year.
"In the future, we anticipate there will be a network of non-federal launch sites throughout the
United States, enabling a commercial launch sector that is responsive to both national needs and
emerging applications such as space tourism," said Patricia Grace Smith, Associate Administrator for
Commercial Space Transportation at the Civil, Commercial and Security Space Symposium in Strasbourg,
France last December.
The NGATS, meanwhile, is providing the framework and atmosphere, so the private sector can develop
and mature new technologies.
One of AST's initiatives is to foster development of a concept for seamlessly integrating space and
aviation operations in a modernized National Air Space. The concept foresees routine launches and
reentries involving a wide range of space vehicles and trajectories. Commercial space operations
would have no national security priority over other airspace users, and protected airspace would be
reduced in an effort to integrate space missions into the airspace mix.
In the future, AST envisions a network of commercial spaceports throughout the United States. Some
of these facilities, such as the Spaceport operated by the Florida Space Authority at Cape Canaveral
and Mojave Civilian Test Flight Center, already exist. Other non-federal spaceports, including three
sites in Texas and one in Nevada, are proposed. Associate Administrator Smith noted that, "We are
already seeing companies take advantage of these potential opportunities by locating near future
space launch sites. It is these new opportunities for orbital and suborbital launches that will
create the next giant leap for space transportation."
For the future, she envisioned a transportation system in which air, land, sea and space converge.
"In this vision, heavy lift launch operations, conducted from national launch centers, work as part
of a network with non-government operators fed by scientific, commercial and defense-related needs.
Businesses - hotels, restaurants, fuel providers, cleaning, tourist services - thrive around the
spaceport much like today's major airports. Routine missions to low-Earth orbit and beyond occur on
an hourly basis - taking advantage of the communications, navigation, and surveillance capabilities
our military has to offer and are interwoven with a well-coordinated, real-time space and air
traffic control system."
Fitting this all together is what the Next Generation Air Transportation System is all about.
"Government has a responsibility to ensure that the infrastructure is in place that allows American
entrepreneurs to work their magic without being strangled by congestion or buried in bureaucratic
red tape. That is what we are focused on," said Jeffrey N. Shane, Under Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Chamber Urges Continued Focus on Aviation System
Calls FAA Plan on Technology a "First Step"
(February 8, 2005) WASHINGTON, D.C. The United States Chamber of Commerce today announced its
support for the administration's initiative to create the Next Generation Air Transportation System
for the year 2025. The Chamber applauded President Bush, Transportation Secretary Mineta, and
Federal Aviation Administrator Blakey for their leadership.
"Aviation is essential to virtually every industry and it is clearly at a crisis point. Millions of
business transactions are made possible every day by aviation -- a business trip to a meeting, a
door-to-door air express shipment, a cargo shipment for international trade, or a general aviation
trip to a manufacturing plant," said Thomas Donohue, Chamber President and CEO.
The business group stressed the crisis stage our aviation system is currently facing and called for
an aggressive implementation schedule. "Without additional investment in our air traffic control
system, the U.S. economy will suffer the consequences of gridlock and significant delay. The
technology and infrastructure supporting our aviation system is aging without new systems ready to
upgrade and replace them. A 20-year plan requires real investments behind it and Congress must
address the nation's aviation needs sooner rather later," said Donohue.
Fully funding needed improvements in the civil aviation system is vital, according to the Chamber,
given the industry's importance to the economy. The industry puts more than $900 billion into the
U.S. economy annually -- eight percent of the nation's gross domestic product -- and supports 10
"The business community will work to build support for accelerated implementation and the necessary
funding sources to meet these vital goals," said Donohue.
The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million
businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.
Keegan Named Operations Planning VP
(February 7, 2005) Charlie Keegan, currently director of the Joint Planning and Development Office,
will also lead the FAA Air Traffic Organization (ATO)'s Operations Planning.
ATO Chief Operating Officer Russ Chew said that, "Charlie succeeds Norm Fujisaki, who for more than
a year has wanted to retire but generously agreed to stay on to complete the ATO Business Outlook
and pilot Operations Planning to straight and level flight. I am deeply grateful to Norm for his
talent, dedication and commitment to excellence, qualities that are evident in the Business Outlook
and other major projects he has led."
Chew noted the JPDO will remain a separate entity and Keegan will wear two hats to promote a
"seamless connection between the near and mid-term planning of the FAA and the longer term planning
of the JPDO."