Space Travel Law (and Politics): The Evolution of the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2005

Course Date

Spring 2019

Course Number

CSO 351

Course Title

Fundamentals of Spaceflight Regulation and Licensing


Postcards from space soon may be possible. Famously described in the Star Trek television series as "the final frontier" for humanity, the space frontier has been traversed by fewer than four hundred and fifty individuals from Yuri Gagarin's historic first space flight in 1961 through the present day.' Given the astronomical cost and risk of human space flight, space travel generally has been limited to a select few government-sponsored astronauts, cosmonauts, and taikonauts traveling aboard government-owned, funded and operated launch vehicles.3 The promise of safe, regular and affordable space trips for average citizens aboard human-rated rocketships has been the stuff of science fiction. Recent advances in materials, propulsion systems, and structures, however, have brought the fantasies of space enthusiasts like Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke, and George Lucas somewhat closer to reality. On October 4, 2004, Scaled Composites, LLC, won the $10 million dollar Ansari X Prize by launching and successfully returning the first privately built and operated, manned rocket - fittingly named "SpaceShipOne" - to a height of more than 100 kilometers above the Earth's surface, twice in a two-week period.4 With the success of this reusable spacecraft, space travel may have entered a new era in which private entities, rather than national governments, regularly, safely and affordably transport people into space.


Article begins on page Vol.31 No.1 Pg. 1 (PDF page number 9)