Feds: Before entering deep space, get a physical

The FAA reveals draft guidelines for aspiring space tourists and commercial operators of spaceships. Images: Birth of a solar system Photos: SpaceShipOne's historic flights

Aspiring space tourists got some proposed guidelines on Thursday from the U.S. government, including advice to get a physical exam before traveling and to accept the risks involved by signing a form.

Previous coverage: Space-
ShipOne repeats its feat

The draft Federal Aviation Administration guidelines also suggest that operators of reusable spaceships should inform their passengers of the vehicle's safety record and provide safety training before the launch, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said.

"We're not going to lose sight of safety," Mineta said in a speech at his department's Commercial Space Transportation Conference. "These guidelines for space tourism respect that this is uncharted territory," allowing operators "to determine the best way to meet the standards."

There is another set of draft guidelines for space flight crews, Mineta said.

Pilots of reusable launch vehicles would need to hold an FAA pilot certificate, meet medical standards and be trained to operate their vehicles so they will not harm the public, with an emphasis on showing they can respond to abort-flight scenarios, perform emergency operations and followo procedures that direct the vehicle away from the public in the event of a problem during flight, he said.

Mineta said he recognized that the commercial space flight industry is at an early stage and encouraged feedback on the guidelines.

The White House unveiled a new policy on commercial space flight in January, seeking to offset the decline in demand for commercial launches by capitalizing on interest in public space travel, among other ventures.

Related images: Birth
of a solar system

The policy was announced three months after the privately funded SpaceShipOne completed two suborbital flights into space with a person aboard, setting a new altitude record and winning a $10 million prize designed to spur commercial space travel.

Entrepreneur Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, has proposed making space travel as ordinary as a Caribbean cruise.

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