Listen To The Story


Steve Chiotakis:: President Obama wants to outsource manned trips into space to private companies. That's started a bureaucratic turf war. Yeah, apparently there's turf in space. Marketplace's Brett Neely has more.

Brett Neely: Even when Neil Armstrong took his first step on the Moon, there was red tape in space. With commercial firms vying to launch astronauts to the space station and tourists into low-earth orbit, the issue of how to regulate safety is heating up.

At a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday, both NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration argued they should take the lead on safety. The FAA already certifies commercial rockets carrying unmanned cargo. But NASA says it has enough experience to handle safety, and is worried too much bureaucracy could strangle the fledgling industry.

Henry Hertzfeld at George Washington University says more regulation in space is inevitable:

Henry Hertzfeld: Right now, orbital activities are essentially unregulated, because we haven't had them in commercial flights.

The private space industry will need a decision soon if it's to start launching missions before the decade is out.
And the space shuttle is due to be retired by the end of this year.

In Washington, I'm Brett Neely for Marketplace.