(Washington, DC) House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas joined Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Ranking Member Brian Babin in a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) requesting information on their attempts to expand their role in commercial space accident investigations. Concurrently, Babin introduced a resolution to reiterate that commercial space launch is a developmental activity, rather than a mode of transportation.
NTSB issued a notice of proposed rulemaking this week to expand their role in commercial space accident investigations, a role currently carried out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Babin and Lucas wrote to express their concerns with this action and its consequences.
“NTSB’s attempts to expand its authority would alter the long-standing commercial space accident investigation process, and significantly impact the commercial space launch industry,” Babin and Lucas wrote. They noted that NTSB’s actions could negatively impact U.S. economic competitiveness, scientific discovery, space exploration, international cooperation, national security, and launch safety.
Along with the letter, Babin introduced a resolution yesterday declaring that space launch is a developmental activity, not a form of transportation, and that a process exists for investigating commercial space launch reentry activities.
The resolution details the extensive history of the House Science Committee’s jurisdiction over this matter, as well as prior conclusions that space launches cannot be considered routine flight, but rather fall in the realm of exploratory activities.