October 23, 2022
Companies building private space stations to replace the International Space Station want greater federal clarification on who would regulate them and how.
No federal agency can authorize and supervise commercial space stations under Article 6 of the Outer Space Treaty.
Other developing commercial space industries, such as satellite servicing and lunar landers, have similar gaps in authority.
The Federal Communications Commission issues communications licenses, the NOAA issues remote sensing licenses, and the FAA issues launch and payload licenses.
These issues become worse as the businesses move closer to the initial space station component launches, despite some scheduling setbacks.
Axiom Space's chief government and external affairs officer, Mary Lynne Dittmar, said her business will launch its first commercial module for the ISS in late 2025, approximately a year later than expected.
Asked what regulatory changes were needed to enable Axiom's commercial space station and others, she observed that many issues are intertwined.
George Nield, former FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation, advised the Department of Transportation.
Gold remarked that commercial space stations will need export control exclusions and prioritizations like the ISS.
NASA's astronauts have career radiation limitations, whereas terrestrial industries have annual limits, Wagner said.