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U.S. set to unveil streamlined commercial space regulations Thursday

WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will unveil final regulations on Thursday on commercial space launch and re-entry license requirements, a senior official told Reuters.

The regulation, which was first proposed in March 2019, consolidates four separate regulations and will apply a single set of licensing and safety rules for all vehicle operations.

Wayne Monteith, the FAA’s associate administrator for commercial space transportation, told Reuters on Wednesday that one goal of the regulation was to be “performance based and not prescriptive.”

A company will be able to get a “single-five year license to cover multiple launches from multiple locations,” Monteith added.

The FAA’s new rules will bring it in line with the Defense Department’s orbit collision avoidance requirements to avoid other satellites or rocket bodies. FAA’s prior rules only required avoidance with human-rated vehicles.

Monteith said the new rules will “unleash the ability of industry to innovate” and will allow U.S. regulators to handle the expected surge in commercial launches.

U.S. companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon.com plan to launch thousands of satellites into orbit in the coming years.

In July, Amazon said it would invest more than $10 billion to build a network of 3,236 satellites to provide high-speed broadband internet. SpaceX is building a network of roughly 12,000 satellites for its Starlink constellation in low Earth orbit.

The rule will become effective in about 90 days. The FAA plans workshops Nov. 4-6 to explain how industry will be impacted by the new requirements.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao noted in 2019, when the rules were proposed, that it had been 12 years since launch vehicle rules were updated. She said the regulation “streamlines the licensing process, enables flexible timeframes, (and) redefines when launch begins.” (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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