Summary: Paying customers on commercially run flights to space would have to meet security requirements, but would not have to pass specific medical tests, according to draft U.S. regulations.
Space may soon open up to citizen explorers, businesses, and tourists, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The FAA is seeking public comment on its recommendations, issued last week, for pilots and passengers participating in privately run space ventures.
While actual tourist flights from the United States to the leading edge of Earth's orbit are likely several years away, companies from several countries are racing to refine their space technology to satisfy regulators and make it affordable, reliable and safe.
Russia has taken tourists into space on conventional rockets and last year a company headed by noted U.S. pilot and aircraft designer Burt Rutan successfully launched its SpaceShipOne craft into low Earth orbit —— twice. The flights met a series of operational tests required by aviation authorities.
British entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin enterprise plans to take passengers into space later this decade from a spaceport he plans to develop in New Mexico.
The FAA said in a draft proposal last week that commercial operators would have to advise passengers about all safety risks, including the number of flights by the space vehicle and the number of problems experienced on the ground and during flight.
Space flight remains inherently risky, the agency said.
Each traveler would have to meet training standards for emergency situations, including a loss of cabin pressure as well as fire and emergency evacuation procedures.
Passengers also would have to clear a security check —— similar to airline passengers' —— to guard against any chance a space tourist would try to destroy the rocket or interfere with the flight crew and use it as a weapon. The FAA recommends that operators could consult the Homeland Security Department's global no fly list.
The FAA did not initially set specific medical requirements but recommended travelers review their medical history to determine whether they are fit.