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GAO: Federal Aviation Administration Needs to Improve Rocket Launch Mishap Investigation Process

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GAO: Federal Aviation Administration Needs to Improve Rocket Launch Mishap Investigation Process

The Government Accountability Office said the Federal Aviation Administration needs to improve its rocket launch mishaps investigation process.

According to a GAO report released on Dec. 7, the FAA decides on a case-by-case basis whether it should investigate mishaps or let the launch provider perform the procedure with the agency’s oversight. One issue the oversight body found was that FAA-led investigations could take up to 20 times longer because the agency does not possess sufficient knowledge of launch vehicles, SpaceNews reported.

Furthermore, the GAO found that the FAA does not have specific criteria for deciding whether to proceed with an agency-led investigation or a company-led one.

The GAO recommended that the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation evaluate its determination processes and come up with criteria for picking which agency-led and provider-led investigations would be optimal.

On top of the GAO findings, the FAA is facing regulatory issues on its planned commercial spaceflight safety rules.

Congress passed a continuing resolution on Sept. 30 extending a moratorium on the FAA’s ability to regulate commercial spaceflight safety by three months. The extension comes as lawmakers continue to debate whether the FAA should continue learning more about spaceflight operations, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., proposing an eight-year moratorium extension.

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Category: Federal Civilian

Tags: Federal Aviation Administration federal civilian Government Accountability Office launch mishap investigation SpaceNews