The Sky Is Not the Limit: Commercial Space Operations Are Taking Off!


By Kelly A. Daly 

This week, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) shared that it is forecasting a “strong growth” in commercial space operations over the next several years. 

As a leading example of this growth, the FAA is anticipating as many as 338 licensed commercial space operations in FY2028. In a 110-page Aerospace Forecast covering fiscal years 2024 through 2044, the FAA estimates that the tripling of the amount of licensed commercial space operation in FY2028 (as compared to FY2023) is largely associated with the greater use of reusable vehicles in launch and reentry operation, the demand for commercial satellite services and the growth of commercial human spaceflight missions. 

In addition, the report also highlights how the introduction of unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS” or “drones”) in the national airspace (“NAS”) has opened numerous commercial possibilities for the industry. As the report explains, by 2028 the commercial UAS fleet will likely increase by 130% resulting in more than a million such drones in NAS. During the same period, recreational drone use is anticipated to exceed 1.8 million aircraft with weights greater than 0.55 lbs. and less than 55 lbs. operated for consumer enjoyment. 

To learn more about the new forecast numbers from the FAA report, visit: faa-aerospace-forecast-fy-2024-2044.

About Snell & Wilmer’s Aerospace and Defense Industry Group:

Snell & Wilmer has been serving clients in key aspects of the aerospace and defense industry for over 60 years. Our team consists of knowledgeable attorneys who are experienced in the legal issues facing airports, airlines and aircraft owners and operators, other government service providers, suppliers, distributors, technology firms, construction firms as well as those involved in aviation-related manufacturing, services and operations and other support functions. Providing a full range of A&D-related legal counsel and services, our practice in this highly unique area involves addressing critical issues related to day-to-day operations, policies and procedures, ownership and management, compliance regulations, product liability, employment matters, mergers & acquisitions, tax, intellectual property and other similar matters. Our attorneys provide practical, “hands-on” advice and counsel, utilizing a solutions-oriented approach that has helped us build long-term relationships with our clients in the A&D industry. Visit our Aerospace and Defense (A&D) industry group page to learn more. 

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