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Space Watch

Personal Spaceflight Conversation Addresses Risk, Opportunities

The Personal Spaceflight panel, one of the concurrent sessions held April 18 at the 28th National Space Symposium, industry entrepreneurs and government leaders discussed this growing business. The panel was moderated by Dr. Leroy Chiao, special advisor – human spaceflight, Space Foundation. Key points included:

Dr. George C. Nield, associate administrator for commercial space transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (pictured top right):
Commercial spaceflight regulators looking at the risk involved in commercial spaceflight should follow the example of the government's role after the Titanic accident and put it in proper context with other hazardous activities we engage in every day. The FAA's role in ensuring passenger safety involves relying on the operators to make sure that happens.

Eric Anderson, chairman & chief executive officer, Space Adventures (pictured middle right):
We're poised now from being a planet with one provider of human spaceflight services and just one destination to no less than ten providers of human spaceflight services. We will start to see hundreds upon hundreds of people going to space every year. The ability of industry to support a dozen providers is highly dependent on the price and the level of safety. But, where there's ability and desire, markets can be created. 

Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems (pictured bottom right):
Commercial space transportation needs to be nurtured and grown. Commercial involvement in space transportation includes co-investing and an ownership model in which a service, rather than just a vehicle, is provided. Sierra Nevada's goals are to provide a safe, reliable, reusable and cost-effective spacecraft. There are three important components in dealing with risk: steps taken during design and training to minimize the risks, responses taken following an accident and steps taken going forward to correct the problem. Once you satisfy where the actual vehicle can be done, one of the biggest challenges is understanding the regulatory environment as we move forward.

See photos here


Pictured: Chiao (standing) moderated the panel.

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