FAA Selects NMSU To Lead Air Transportation Center Of Excellence


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FAA Selects NMSU To Lead Air Transportation Center Of Excellence

By Daniel Baxter

August 19, 2010 - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected New Mexico State University (NMSU), Las Cruces, NM, to lead a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation.

The center is a partnership of academia, industry, and government, developed for the purpose of creating a world-class consortium that will address current and future challenges for commercial space transportation. 

"The Obama Administration is committed to making sure the United States remains the world leader in space development and exploration," said Secretary LaHood.

"This new center underscores that commitment, and will ensure that the commercial space community can meet our current and future space transportation needs." NMSU Las Cruces will lead a team of colleges and universities throughout the country. These include Stanford University in California, the University of Florida at Tallahassee, the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, the Florida Center for Advanced Aero-Propulsion based in Tallahassee, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. 

Congress authorized Air Transportation Centers of Excellence under the Federal Aviation Administration Research, Engineering and Development Authorization Act of 1990. This legislation enables the FAA to work with universities and their industry partners to conduct research in environment and aviation safety, and other activities to assure a safe and efficient air transportation system. With the establishment of this center, research will extend to cutting-edge technologies and infrastructure for private human spaceflight and orbital debris mitigation. 

The United States' space program has three sectors - civil, military and commercial. The FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation is responsible for licensing, regulating and promoting the commercial sector space industry. Since the office was created in 1984, the FAA has issued licenses for more than 200 launches, has licensed the operation of eight FAA-approved launch sites known as spaceports, and has helped ensure that no loss of life or serious injury has been associated with these efforts.


The FAA has established eight other centers of excellence, focusing on air cabin environment, noise and emissions mitigation, airport pavement technology, operations research, advanced materials, aircraft structures, airworthiness assurance, and general aviation.


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