A team of eight institutions that includes the University of Colorado at Boulder has been selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to participate in a newly formed Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation.
The center will focus on four major research areas: space launch operations and traffic management; launch vehicle systems; commercial human space flight; and space commerce including law, insurance, policy and regulation. The new FAA center is expected to begin operations shortly, said aerospace engineering sciences Professor David Klaus, the principal investigator for the CU-Boulder portion of the project.
"This is an exciting opportunity to help shape the future of commercial space flight," said Klaus, who also is the associate director of BioServe Space Technologies, an established commercial space research group headquartered in CU-Boulder's aerospace department.
"This industry is currently at a point in time that is somewhat analogous to the barnstorming days of early aviation," said Klaus. "We have tremendous potential to advance the capabilities of space travel for the generations to come."
"Commercial space flight is ready to play a greater role in the nation's space program," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "Universities working with industry partners will fuel the research necessary to help keep us in the forefront of both technology and safety in space."
The Obama administration recently released its new National Space Policy, which recognizes opportunities and advancements in commercial space transportation and lays out specific ways to use commercial capabilities.
Congress authorized Air Transportation Centers of Excellence under the FAA Research, Engineering and Development Authorization Act of 1990. This legislation enables the FAA to work with universities and their industry partners to conduct research in environment and aviation safety, and other activities to assure a safe and efficient air transportation system.
The FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation is responsible for licensing, regulating and promoting the commercial space industry. Since the office was created in 1984, the FAA has issued licenses for more than 200 launches and has licensed the operation of eight FAA-approved launch sites known as spaceports.