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US presses NTSB to head future probes for any deadly space accident According to Reuters



By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With many private companies launching people into space, the US government on Friday said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will lead investigations into space accidents. future commercial where a person is killed or seriously injured.

The NTSB will be the leading investigator in such incidents of death or injury regardless of whether the person is on a commercial space launch vehicle or returning, according to an NTSB agreement https://www. .ntsb.gov/legal/gc/Documents/NTSB-FAA-Commercial-Space-MOU.pdf signed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“This agreement reflects our shared goal of ensuring a safe, strong, and vibrant U.S. commercial space industry,” said Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen.

The NTSB will also take the lead if there is damage to property unrelated to commercial launch or return to space or launch sites from debris that could result in death or serious injury.

The FAA will be the leading investigative agency on all other commercial space risks.

The last agreement between the two agencies was signed 22 years ago, the NTSB said.

The NTSB is currently reviewing public comments on their November 2021 proposal to systematize investigative procedures for commercial space accidents and incidents.

By law, the NTSB, an independent federal agency, investigates all fatal plane crashes and other serious traffic accidents.

NTSB President Jennifer Homendy told Reuters in an interview that it was important to establish orders for an investigation before there was a major incident.

“We have to be ready…. You don’t want to wait until something tragic happens,” Homendy said. “If we go with history, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

Last month, bipartisan leaders on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders introduced legislation to clarify the NTSB’s authority to investigate commercial space transportation crashes. .

The Federal Communications Commission this week proposed rules to address the growing challenge of orbital debris, noting that “satellites are defunct, rocket cores are scrapped, and rocket cores are removed.” Other debris currently fills the space environment creating challenges for future missions.” As of 2021, there are more than 4,800 satellites in orbit.

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