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Safety last: Reckless behavior provides China with economic competitive advantages in space launch

21 May 2019, 16:07 UTC
Safety last: Reckless behavior provides China with economic competitive advantages in space launch
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This article originally appeared in the May 20, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine.
Space launch is becoming a highly competitive market and the United States’ leadership position in the new landscape has been based to a great extent on its successful regulatory model. The framework first established by the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 has provided startups and investors with defined processes and licensing regimes that are workable for business while ensuring public safety. The generally effective and forward thinking work of Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), the Federal Communications Commission and more recently the Office of Space Commerce have actually attracted foreign founders and investors to set up shop in the United States. Space has been a rare case of American regulatory competitive advantage. Witness the success of Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and Firefly as U.S. entities. These firms might easily have taken their business elsewhere, but U.S. talent and the rule of law have made space launch America’s business to lose. China has recently made it clear it intends to contend aggressively over this important industry and it is worth noting that extremely lax regulation has often played a critical role that nation’s ...

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