In what amounts to a memo from the Office of Sanity, the FAA is withdrawing a previously published direct final rule that would have allowed launch operators that conduct certain amateur rocket launches to voluntarily apply for a commercial space transportation license or experimental permit.
According to the agency’s Nov. 14 notice in the Federal Register, it received “several adverse comments” on its Aug. 22 regulation. To be sure, the licensing would have been voluntary, and it was proffered as one way to support larger launch operators that, under contract with NASA, were required to obtain an FAA launch license.
But commenters pointed to issues with the potential cost to small businesses and the government, both in terms of the resources necessary for preparing and evaluating applications and in conditional payment of excess claims commonly referred to as “indemnification.” Others vociferously doubted whether amateur rockets could ever meet higher, Class III requirements, whether applying those requirements to smaller Class I vehicles made sense or was necessary, and whether safety issues were created.
Nevermind, says FAA. Happy Thanksgiving!
[Edited 11/26/12 6:20PM]