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Sat, Jan 07, 2006

FAA Says Security Checks, Training Needed For Space-Faring Passengers

The TSA... In Space?

Imagine this scenario, in a few years hence: after scrimping and saving, you've accumulated enough money (hopefully, by this time tickets are under $100K) to afford a trip into space aboard a private spacecraft -- let's say, Virgin Galactic Flight 182, scheduled to depart from the Truth Or Consequences, NM Cosmodrome at 13:30 local.

You arrive at the spaceport at 11 -- plenty of time to check in, grab a bite to eat at Astro-Garduno's (NM natives will understand) and, perhaps, walk around the facility to examine its artifacts from the history of rocketry. And then, and about 12 or so -- you REALLY want to make sure you make your flight -- you get in line for security.

Such a scenario will likely become a reality, according to the FAA. (Well, except for the restaurant -- green chile enchiladas probably aren't the best things to consume before experiencing 3g's, followed by weightlessness.)

In today's security climate, no potential threat can be overlooked -- and that includes passengers who might wish to blow up a suborbital spaceflight, or otherwise use it as a weapon. Which means paying customers on commercial spaceflights would have to meet security requirements, same as airline passengers.

In its draft proposal last week on regulations to govern the likely scenario of private spaceflight, the FAA also stated commercial operators will have to advise passengers about all safety risks inherent to the flight -- including how many flights the spacecraft has under its wheels, as well as the problems experienced on the ground and during flight.

"Space flight remains inherently risky," the agency said, according to a CNN/Reuters report.

Passengers would also have to meet certain training standards to handle emergency situations -- such as a loss of cabin pressure, or fire -- but it's unlikely they would have to seek a separate medical rating.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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