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From: Henry Spencer <>
Subject: Re: Is it illegal?
Date: Mon, 8 Apr 1996 05:07:40 GMT

[This has nothing to do with, so I've cross-posted to and redirected followups there.]

In article <4jqm53$> (UGK1) writes:
>I have always wondered, if someone had the knowledge and money to create a
>spaceship safely, are they allowed or does NASA own the universe? ...

If the someone is a US citizen, the US government owns the universe, or
at least controls it closely.  The Office of Commercial Space Transportation,
recently merged into the FAA (with somewhat-unclear effects as yet), has
licensing authority for non-government spaceflight conducted from the US
*or* by US citizens anywhere.

The good news is that OCST is not NASA, and has no vested interest in
keeping private enterprise out of space.  (In the pre-OCST days, NASA had
a substantial track record of obstructing attempts at private spaceflight.)

The bad news is that OCST is a creature of modern government, and part of
its job is to protect the government's interests.  In particular, while
the FAA basically can ground your airplane only for safety reasons, OCST
can ground your spaceship if your proposed launches are "not in the public
interest", i.e. if some government agency with political clout doesn't
like your plans. 
Americans proved to be more bureaucratic           |       Henry Spencer
than I ever thought.  --Valery Ryumin, RKK Energia |

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