Bill Would Give NTSB Charge over Civil Space Accidents

 - August 16, 2022, 11:37 AM

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) leaders are backing a bipartisan bill to ensure the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has the authority to investigate commercial space transportation accidents. House aviation subcommittee ranking member Garret Graves (R-Louisiana) introduced the Commercial Space Transportation Safety Act of 2022 (H.R. 8689), with co-sponsors including aviation subcommittee chair Rick Larsen (D-Washington), T&I chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), and T&I ranking member Sam Graves (R-Missouri). 

“As commercial space transportation technology advances, we must guarantee that safety progresses as well. This is the only way to ensure a robust industry and all the benefits of innovation,” Garret Graves said. “This legislation clarifies how commercial space transportation accidents will be handled and how lessons learned will be applied.”

The bill would clarify NTSB’s role in commercial space transportation accident investigations but focus the scope to ensure routine incidents or mishaps do not get caught in that mandate. It would direct the NTSB to update memoranda of understanding with other federal agencies to clarify the responsibilities of each party to reduce confusion and duplication.

“By protecting the NTSB’s independence and mandate to carry out unbiased investigations with safety recommendations, we will strengthen our nation’s transportation system for the modern era,” DeFazio added.

The lawmakers introduced a similar bill last year. Sam Graves said this bill can progress as Congress works on a fuller NTSB reauthorization bill.