Special Permit for Commercial Space Operations

Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA)

Posted on Nov 12th, 2015

Federal hazardous materials transportation law authorizes the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”) to issue Special Permit variances to hazardous materials regulations in a way that achieves a safety level that is at least equal to the safety level required under federal hazmat law or consistent with the public interest if a required safety level does not exist.

The VCSFA oversees the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (“MARS”), a full-service, Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”)-licensed spaceport located at the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. The purpose of the special permit was to support VCSFA transportations operations related to commercial space launches under the NASA Commercial Operations to Station (“COTS”) program. The COTS program funds commercial space operations that resupply the International Space Station and is designed to develop new space launch capacity within the United States.

The special permit that TWG obtained on behalf of VCSFA authorizes the transportation in commerce of a Division 2.2 compressed gas in a non-DOT specification cylinder that is a component of a pressurized flight vehicle. This pressurized flight vehicle is a component of the Cygnus advanced maneuvering spacecraft used to perform ISS re-supply missions.

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