Why are the Feds so afraid to let humanity out of its crib?
The above links are not entirely unrelated. While the flight crew experience minimums came down from on high (or wherever it is Congress resides), the sudden reversal on regulating spaceflight perfectly illustrates how our government looks at us lately. The FAA is just the branch I have the most personal experience with and they’ve been getting decidedly too big for their britches lately: Weight & Balance rules that will grind airline ops to a screeching halt, directing AMEs to assume anyone over a certain BMI needs a CPAP machine, classifying off-the-shelf R/C models fitted with GoPro cameras as “drones” to be regulated.
Deciding it’s time to regulate in-development spacecraft and orbital operations tells me the Feds have decided that literally nothing is beyond their reach. Pardon me, Mr. Nield, but you have not the slightest damned idea what you’re talking about. Assuming the past 50 years of NASA-centric spaceflight experience puts you in a position to dictate standards to companies who’ve set out to break that mold is the worst kind of hidebound bureaucratic “thinking.”
Over the last fifty years, how much demonstrable progress has been made on reusable launchers? If your answer is “space shuttle” then you’re missing my point. Each orbiter had to go through the rough equivalent of an airline heavy-check every single time they flew. If we did that, we’d be out of business just as surely as if we threw away our airplanes after each trip.
Did anyone anticipate SpaceX would be able to create a reusable first stage that lands on its tail like something from a 1950’s sci-fi movie? Or XCOR’s runway-to-suborbit spaceplane? How would either of those fit into standards that by Nield’s logic should be based on NASA legacy systems?
Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t even manage that, regulate.
Get out of our way.