Osama bin Laden banned from orbit
The US Federal Aviation Authority has responded to the possible threat of terrorist exploitation of the burgeoning space tourism business by drafting some proposed regs to ensure Ossie bin Laden and his mates don't book themselves aboard Virgin Galactic.
In effect, the FAA says space tourists should be treated the same as airline passengers, with the usual security checks and a quick shufti of the global "no-fly" list to see if the wannabe astronaut has previously been barred from airlines worldwide for attempting to open the door mid-flight in order to have a quick ciggie.
According to the BBC, the FAA's report declares: "New technologies carry new risks. Nonetheless, Congress recognises that private industry has begun to develop commercial launch vehicles capable of carrying human beings into space, and greater private investment in these efforts will stimulate the nation's commercial space transportation industry as a whole.
"The public interest is served by creating a clear legal, regulatory, and safety regime for commercial human spaceflight," it adds.
There are, thankfully, a few potential benefits of the FAA proposals for customers who will pay $200,000 a pop to blast off from Virgin Galactic's New Mexico spaceport when it eventually opens for business. The FAA recommends "companies should give passengers safety advice including the number of flights the spacecraft has been on and any problems they have experienced with the craft" as well as offering "pre-flight training to handle emergency situations such as a loss of cabin pressure or fire".
Interestingly, the FAA offers no passenger health recommendations, so we'll have to wait to see what minimum fitness criteria Virgin Galactic applies to its low-orbit punters. ®