Last week’s Federal Register contained offerings for the space sector.
The President issued an Executive Order to assess the manufacturing and defense base, which should include the aerospace sector as one that is essential to national security. The President is requiring the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with other agencies, to report on goods and materials essential to national security, identify the manufacturing capabilities necessary for their production, and then identify how things could go wrong in the supply chain for those goods and materials, including identifying gaps and single points of failure. Most significantly the report calls for an assessment of the exclusive or dominant supply of good essential to national security “by or through nations that are or are likely to become unfriendly or unstable.” Will Russian rocket engines be put on that list? The report must recommend any “legislative, regulatory, and policy changes and other actions by the President or the heads of agencies” necessary to mitigate the problems identified by the report and shore up deficiencies.
On a separate front, the FAA has made available its final environmental assessment for Virgin’s Launcher One. The FAA’s notice summarizes Virgin’s plans:
The Final EA addresses the potential environmental impacts of Virgin Orbit (LauncherOne) LLC’s (L1’s) proposal to launch the LauncherOne at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Kern County, California, for purposes of transporting small satellites into a variety of Low Earth Orbits. The launch system consists of the rocket (LauncherOne) and a carrier aircraft (Boeing 747). To operate LauncherOne at the Mojave Air and Space Port, L1 must obtain a launch license from the FAA. Issuing a launch license is considered a major Federal action subject to environmental review under NEPA. Under the Proposed Action, the FAA would issue a launch license to L1 that would allow L1 to operate LauncherOne from the Mojave Air and Space Port. L1 is proposing a maximum of 115 launches over the course of the 5-year launch license.