Commercial Spaceflight and Aviation Trust Fund

Iflydogs

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Iflydogs
Listened to this on NPR today:


The gist is there is a movement from the people with their hands in our pockets to shove them into Spacex’s pockets, among others. It sounds plausible on the face of it but I wonder if it would be a stalking horse for user fees for GA. Posting it here because there are many people here who have knowledge and insight into this.
 
I'd rather my tax dollars go to SpaceX than the billions already given to Tesla for EV subsidies.
That said, I am personally against virtually all government subsidies.
 
Not about subsidies. There is an element in government that wants Spacex to reimburse the FAA for all the extra work they do to support a space flight. The same logic can be applied to GA.
 
Listened to this on NPR today:


The gist is there is a movement from the people with their hands in our pockets to shove them into Spacex’s pockets, among others. It sounds plausible on the face of it but I wonder if it would be a stalking horse for user fees for GA. Posting it here because there are many people here who have knowledge and insight into this.
All aviation in the US is subsidized. Aviation, including GA, is people with their hands in other peoples pockets.
 
Not about subsidies. There is an element in government that wants Spacex to reimburse the FAA for all the extra work they do to support a space flight. The same logic can be applied to GA.
There is already some mechanism in GA for users to pay: Fuel taxes. You can argue about whether different segments of GA pay their "fair share", but there is some payment happening.

There is currently no user payment mechanism at all for space flight. That hasn't been much of an issue until SpaceX came along, so now's a good time to think about it.

So, this is closer to a situation of "they have this in GA, so we should have this in space flight" rather than "they're about to implement this in space flight, so should we be worried about this in GA?".
 
Not about subsidies. There is an element in government that wants Spacex to reimburse the FAA for all the extra work they do to support a space flight. The same logic can be applied to GA.
What extra work? All the unnecessary paperwork and certifications? Other than clearing the airspace for launch, what exactly does the FAA provide that is value added to a SpaceX launch?
 
What extra work? All the unnecessary paperwork and certifications? Other than clearing the airspace for launch, what exactly does the FAA provide that is value added to a SpaceX launch?
It’s all “unnecessary paperwork and certifications” until Billy Bob’s cheap rocket rides’ hunk of junk disintegrates on launch and a turbopump lands on little Tommy’s head while he is in class.

If we are going to have commercial and private enterprises performing actions that inherently bring risks to the general public, we have to have some mechanism to control those risks.

Do you think all aviation regulations are unnecessary?
 
What extra work? All the unnecessary paperwork and certifications? Other than clearing the airspace for launch, what exactly does the FAA provide that is value added to a SpaceX launch?

A small excerpt:
4. Part 450 Subpart C—Safety Requirements..........................................................128
a. Neighboring Operations Personnel (§ 450.101(a) and (b))..............................128
b. High Consequence Event Protection (§ 450.101(c)).......................................148
c. Critical Asset and Critical Payload Protection.................................................172
d. Other Safety Criteria (§ 450.101(d), (e), (f), and (g))......................................195
e. System Safety Program (§ 450.103)................................................................196
f. Hazard Control Strategies (§ 450.107).............................................................208
g. Hazard Control Strategy Determination (§ 450.107(b))..................................212
h. Flight Abort (§ 450.108)..................................................................................219
i.Flight Hazard Analysis (§ 450.109)..................................................................271
j. Physical Containment (§ 450.110)....................................................................278
k. Wind Weighting (§ 450.111)...........................................................................280
l. FLIGHT SAFETY ANALYSIS (§§ 450.113 TO 450.139).............................282
m. Flight Safety Analysis Requirements— Scope (§ 450.113)...........................285
n. Flight Safety Analysis Methods (§ 450.115)...................................................287
o. Trajectory Analysis for Normal Flight (§ 450.117).........................................288
p.Trajectory Analysis for Malfunction Flight (§ 450.119)...........................298
q. Debris Analysis (§ 450.121)............................................................................318
r. Population Exposure Analysis (§ 450.123)......................................................328
s. Probability of Failure Analysis (§ 450.131).....................................................332
t. Flight Hazard Area Analysis (§ 450.133).........................................................341
u. Debris Risk Analysis (§ 450.135)....................................................................352
v.Far-field Overpressure Blast Effect Analysis, or Distant Focus Overpressure (DFO) (§ 450.137)..362
w. Toxic Hazards (§§ 450.139 and 450.187).......................................................367
x.Computing Systems (§ 450.141)......................................................................375
y. Safety-Critical Systems Design, Test, and Documentation (§ 450.143).........396
z. Flight Safety Systems (§§ 450.143 and 450.145)............................................411
aa. Hybrid Vehicles..............................................................................................428
bb. Agreements and Airspace (§ 450.147)...........................................................443
cc. Safety-Critical Personnel Qualifications (§ 450.149)....................................448
dd. Work Shift and Rest Requirements (§ 450.151)............................................449
ee. Radio Frequency (§ 450.153).........................................................................454
ff. Readiness and Rehearsals (§ 450.155).......................................................459
gg. Communications (§ 450.157).........................................................................460
hh. Pre-flight Procedures (§ 450.159)..................................................................463
ii.Control of Hazard Areas (§ 450.161)..............................................................464
jj. Lightning Hazard Mitigation (§ 450.163).......................................................473
kk. Flight Commit Criteria (§ 450.165)...............................................................478
ll. Tracking (§ 450.167).......................................................................................479
mm.Launch and Reentry Collision Avoidance Analysis Requirements (§ 450.169)...483
nn. Safety at End of Launch (§ 450.171).............................................................495
oo. Mishap (Definition, §§ 450.173 and 450.175)...............................................495
pp. Unique Safety Policies, Requirements and Practices (§ 450.177).................514
qq. Ground Safety (§ 450.179 to § 450.189).......................................................517

Do you really want any Jeff, Bill, or Elon who has the money to build a rocket (also known as "a very complicated and hard to control moving bomb") to be able to shoot it off with the only requirement that ATC has a few minutes to clear aircraft out of the way, first?
 
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Is all of that anymore extensive and expensive than a new aircraft design, or a new 135 or 121 getting approved?
 
Is all of that anymore extensive and expensive than a new aircraft design, or a new 135 or 121 getting approved?
It is at least as extensive and expensive. Spaceflight oversight is also relatively new and does not have 100 years of evolution to develop and refine policies and procedures and cultivate in-house expertise. The knowledge and tools required to support the FAA's aviation and spaceflight obligations are not 100% interchangeable.

The scope of the FAA's aviation oversight role is (currently) much larger than the scope of their spaceflight oversight role. That does not mean that the spaceflight oversight role is trivial or inexpensive.
 

A small excerpt:
4. Part 450 Subpart C—Safety Requirements..........................................................128
a. Neighboring Operations Personnel (§ 450.101(a) and (b))..............................128
b. High Consequence Event Protection (§ 450.101(c)).......................................148
c. Critical Asset and Critical Payload Protection.................................................172
d. Other Safety Criteria (§ 450.101(d), (e), (f), and (g))......................................195
e. System Safety Program (§ 450.103)................................................................196
f. Hazard Control Strategies (§ 450.107).............................................................208
g. Hazard Control Strategy Determination (§ 450.107(b))..................................212
h. Flight Abort (§ 450.108)..................................................................................219
i.Flight Hazard Analysis (§ 450.109)..................................................................271
j. Physical Containment (§ 450.110)....................................................................278
k. Wind Weighting (§ 450.111)...........................................................................280
l. FLIGHT SAFETY ANALYSIS (§§ 450.113 TO 450.139).............................282
m. Flight Safety Analysis Requirements— Scope (§ 450.113)...........................285
n. Flight Safety Analysis Methods (§ 450.115)...................................................287
o. Trajectory Analysis for Normal Flight (§ 450.117).........................................288
p.Trajectory Analysis for Malfunction Flight (§ 450.119)...........................298
q. Debris Analysis (§ 450.121)............................................................................318
r. Population Exposure Analysis (§ 450.123)......................................................328
s. Probability of Failure Analysis (§ 450.131).....................................................332
t. Flight Hazard Area Analysis (§ 450.133).........................................................341
u. Debris Risk Analysis (§ 450.135)....................................................................352
v.Far-field Overpressure Blast Effect Analysis, or Distant Focus Overpressure (DFO) (§ 450.137)..362
w. Toxic Hazards (§§ 450.139 and 450.187).......................................................367
x.Computing Systems (§ 450.141)......................................................................375
y. Safety-Critical Systems Design, Test, and Documentation (§ 450.143).........396
z. Flight Safety Systems (§§ 450.143 and 450.145)............................................411
aa. Hybrid Vehicles..............................................................................................428
bb. Agreements and Airspace (§ 450.147)...........................................................443
cc. Safety-Critical Personnel Qualifications (§ 450.149)....................................448
dd. Work Shift and Rest Requirements (§ 450.151)............................................449
ee. Radio Frequency (§ 450.153).........................................................................454
ff. Readiness and Rehearsals (§ 450.155).......................................................459
gg. Communications (§ 450.157).........................................................................460
hh. Pre-flight Procedures (§ 450.159)..................................................................463
ii.Control of Hazard Areas (§ 450.161)..............................................................464
jj. Lightning Hazard Mitigation (§ 450.163).......................................................473
kk. Flight Commit Criteria (§ 450.165)...............................................................478
ll. Tracking (§ 450.167).......................................................................................479
mm.Launch and Reentry Collision Avoidance Analysis Requirements (§ 450.169)...483
nn. Safety at End of Launch (§ 450.171).............................................................495
oo. Mishap (Definition, §§ 450.173 and 450.175)...............................................495
pp. Unique Safety Policies, Requirements and Practices (§ 450.177).................514
qq. Ground Safety (§ 450.179 to § 450.189).......................................................517

Do you really want any Jeff, Bill, or Elon who has the money to build a rocket (also known as "a very complicated and hard to control moving bomb") to be able to shoot it off with the only requirement that ATC has a few minutes to clear aircraft out of the way, first?
It seems to be working fine in the experimental aircraft world.
 
It seems to be working fine in the experimental aircraft world.
You're...you're really going to compare oversight of someone building a plane in their garage to oversight of flying a metal cylinder filled with a few hundred thousand pounds of high explosives that can fly multiple times the speed of sound and reach anywhere on earth?

Really??!?
 
You're...you're really going to compare oversight of someone building a plane in their garage to oversight of flying a metal cylinder filled with a few hundred thousand pounds of high explosives that can fly multiple times the speed of sound and reach anywhere on earth?

Really??!?

Technically, it’s a couple million pounds of highly flammable fuel and oxygen. I’m no fan of government regulations, but we do need some protection from over aggressive experiments (I do think Space X is doing things right). This article is about a push by the FAA to create another funding stream. Is it justified? I’m skeptical. Government agencies always think they need more money. Strangely, they are never overfunded.
 
I’m no fan of government regulations, but we do need some protection from over aggressive experiments (I do think Space X is doing things right).
(Spoiler alert: Part of why SpaceX is "doing things right" is due to government regulation.)

Okay, so you agree there needs to be some government here. Its funding can pretty much come from general taxes (like income, capital gains, etc.), user fees (fuel taxes, etc.) or from some combination.

The majority of the FAA's funding--not just for ATC, but for all FAA functions--comes from user fees already. 100% of those user fees currently come from aviation, not spaceflight. Today, I'm paying more to fund the FAA when I fuel my plane to fly for an hour VFR around uncontrolled airports than SpaceX is paying when it launches a Falcon 9.

As I posted before, the OP's original comment was backwards: "If they do it to SpX, will they do it to us??"

How about instead: "They're already doing it to us. Why not do it to SpX?"

This article is about a push by the FAA to create another funding stream. Is it justified? I’m skeptical. Government agencies always think they need more money. Strangely, they are never overfunded.
As I mentioned before, the FAA knowledge and tools required to support their spaceflight functions do not 100% overlap with their aviation functions. To expect that to be true would be like expecting SpX to use its current workforce and facilities to also manufacture aircraft "for free". It is reasonable to expect that as commercial spaceflight activity grows, the FAA will need more resources to perform their assigned functions in that arena.

At some point, it seems reasonable to me that user fees contributed from spaceflight should be part of the FAA funding model. Is that point today? I dunno. But I think it's silly to just say, "Never!!", especially if the rationale is, "Because GA will be next!!"
 
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You're...you're really going to compare oversight of someone building a plane in their garage to oversight of flying a metal cylinder filled with a few hundred thousand pounds of high explosives that can fly multiple times the speed of sound and reach anywhere on earth?

Really??!?
Actually yes, I am comparing the two as far as the FAA is concerned. There are other government agencies that already deal with the regulation of high explosives and when, where and how they can be used. The FAA is much deeper into the business of SpaceX and others well beyond just the simple safety factors of keeping the public safe from something flying in the air. If that was the case then it really would just be a matter of them ensuring the launches are done far enough away from the public to not affect them or their safety. Why should they be involved any more than that?
 
Actually yes, I am comparing the two as far as the FAA is concerned. There are other government agencies that already deal with the regulation of high explosives and when, where and how they can be used. The FAA is much deeper into the business of SpaceX and others well beyond just the simple safety factors of keeping the public safe from something flying in the air. If that was the case then it really would just be a matter of them ensuring the launches are done far enough away from the public to not affect them or their safety. Why should they be involved any more than that?
Other government agencies--with the exception of the military and NASA--have zero expertise in the operation of rocketry. The military is not in the business of general oversight of private entities, nor would any reasonable person want them to be. NASA is also not primarily a regulatory agency. Regardless, questions about "who" in the government should have oversight responsibility for spaceflight only moves the required resources from one place to another. This is a role that did not exist 20 years ago, so wherever you decide to put it, you need to provide resources for it to happen.

Unless you decide the function is not required at all. Did you read the excerpt of the document I posted earlier? Which functions do you think are unnecessary and should be completely deleted? What about the other functions specified in that document?

Do you really think government should be completely hands-off and allow private entities to manufacture and operate ICBMs without oversight? If the answer is "yes", then I give up--you are simply not a reasonable person.

If the answer is "no", then regardless of what government entity performs that function, and regardless of the scope of that oversight, they need resources to do so. Just like aviation pays for a goodly portion of that function, perhaps (eventually) so should spaceflight.
 
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There's nothing in the article that supports the government's position one way or the other, it's just NPR reporting what some govt officials are thinking about. Wouldn't you rather know what our government is planning than be left in the dark?

From a reliable news source, yes. NPR is not that.
 
I also drive on government funded roads, what’s your point? The government serves a role just like corporations, and neither deserve to be worshipped or left to police themselves.
 
Govt doesn't fund the roads, we do. Where does the govt get the funds? From taxpayers. Supposed to be impost and duties.
 
Other government agencies--with the exception of the military and NASA--have zero expertise in the operation of rocketry. The military is not in the business of general oversight of private entities, nor would any reasonable person want them to be. NASA is also not primarily a regulatory agency. Regardless, questions about "who" in the government should have oversight responsibility for spaceflight only moves the required resources from one place to another. This is a role that did not exist 20 years ago, so wherever you decide to put it, you need to provide resources for it to happen.

Unless you decide the function is not required at all. Did you read the excerpt of the document I posted earlier? Which functions do you think are unnecessary and should be completely deleted? What about the other functions specified in that document?

Do you really think government should be completely hands-off and allow private entities to manufacture and operate ICBMs without oversight? If the answer is "yes", then I give up--you are simply not a reasonable person.

If the answer is "no", then regardless of what government entity performs that function, and regardless of the scope of that oversight, they need resources to do so. Just like aviation pays for a goodly portion of that function, perhaps (eventually) so should spaceflight.
I never said the government should be completely hand off. You are the one that is insinuating that from my comment about the unnecessary buerocracy that the FAA brings. Do you really think they are not over reaching at times? How about the 737 max for example. The rules the FAA set forced Boeing to design variants instead of clean sheet designs which lead to needing mcas so it could be certified by the FAA. Not only that but the employees at the faa that were supposed to be doing the certification missed it themselves and because they were embarressed hey drug Boeing through the mud for years and never accepted any of the blame themselves. Boeing made design decisions that were not in the interest of the company or the safety of the public because of the FAAs arcane certification rules and regulations firced them to. Do you really think the same isn't happening with spaceflight today? Do you really think the people at the FAA are smarter than NASA or the companies designing the rockets and should be setting the rules?
 
I never said the government should be completely hand off.
OK: Apparently we're agreed that there should be some government oversight. We may disagree about what part of gov't should do that or how much gov't should do that, but clearly there should be something.

The OP was about whether or not there should be user fees to pay for that oversight. All of your subsequent comments have been completely unrelated to that question.
 
Govt doesn't fund the roads, we do. Where does the govt get the funds? From taxpayers. Supposed to be impost and duties.
lol I guess if you spend your time worrying about chem trails and believe you’re a “sovereign citizen” then this makes sense
 
Apparently, you have not been paying attention.
Yeah, those NPR guys--always prattling off nothing but lies, lies, lies. Didn't they recently settle for $787 million for spouting lies about someone rather than risk a more substantial loss in court? Oh wait, no, I think that was someone else.
 
Strong opinion of the messenger without addressing the message. That's weird.
I thought I made it clear my opinion of both messenger and message is low. Nothing he said makes NPR look biased, it just makes him look like a whiny employee who didn't like answering to a boss. And even if you believe him, that still doesn't negate NPR's very straightforward reporting of facts that this thread is (supposed to be) about.

The second I saw this thread I knew it would go off the rails. Nothing about the OP was even slightly pro-liberal, but there is a dedicated crowd of people here that spend their time sniffing out anything even remotely to the left of Genghis Khan and then go about loudly shoving their own irrelevant, asinine politics in everyone's face.
 
... there is a dedicated crowd of people here that spend their time sniffing out anything even remotely to the left of Genghis Khan and then go about loudly shoving their own irrelevant, asinine politics in everyone's face.
You're sort of new around here, and I don't think I've seen you post about much of anything without a political spin.

Try participating in the aviation portions of the forum and you might see a different side of things.
 
I thought I made it clear my opinion of both messenger and message is low. Nothing he said makes NPR look biased, it just makes him look like a whiny employee who didn't like answering to a boss. And even if you believe him, that still doesn't negate NPR's very straightforward reporting of facts that this thread is (supposed to be) about.

The second I saw this thread I knew it would go off the rails. Nothing about the OP was even slightly pro-liberal, but there is a dedicated crowd of people here that spend their time sniffing out anything even remotely to the left of Genghis Khan and then go about loudly shoving their own irrelevant, asinine politics in everyone's face.

So you can see it when "they" do it?
 
In a similar vein, I don’t think most of us are aware of what the FAA is doing today re: commercial space flight and it’s associated costs. While the quote below is from an industry rag, I found it informative.

The FAA, in its fiscal year 2025 budget proposal released March 11, requested $57.13 million for its Office of Commercial Space Transportation, or AST. That is a 36% increase from the $42.018 million AST received in the final fiscal year 2024 spending bill passed last week.


Well under $100M/yr is budget dust, but the underlying question is whether space operators should get a free ride on regulatory cost. I’ll leave that part alone as it’s destined for the spin zone.

As to the OPs question, anything could be a precursor to GA user fees if you look hard enough.
 
Isn't most space flight still experimental?
 
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