Patti Grace Smith Rockets On

"Volatus per inane homo privatus." Stamp it on your rocket.

And find the translation in the text of FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation Patti Grace Smith's talk,
Space Means Business, which she delivered at the Washington Space Business Roundtable last month (Dec. 6, 2007).

Patti's resignation from FAA/AST (which Clark Lindsey
first reported on HobbySpace on Monday) is official, and here, also via Clark, is the announcement, including a statement by Patti.

As we all know,
Patti has worked in the commercial space arena at the Department of Transportation since 1994. (Ah, remember the ol' OCST?) Under her leadership at FAA/AST, the office's ground breaking work served both the public and nascent space transportation industry and launched private space regulation into the new century. We imagine Patti in the room the first time a federal government official uttered the phrase "commercial space" without smirking (in fact, she may have been the government official who uttered it). Today, her office and work serve as a model for private spaceflight regulators worldwide.

Here are some thoughts Patti shared in her talk last month at WSBR:

When I spoke at the Space Business Roundtable in 1999, Space Adventures Ltd was only a year old.

In 1999 Bigelow Aerospace was founded. So was XCOR. At that time, there was no Armadillo, no Blue Origin, no SpaceX or Virgin Galactic.

The X Prize had not been won.

The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 obviously had not been written. The FAA was not yet the agency in charge of private human spaceflight.

There were no regulations for experimental permits governing the testing of suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles. There were no regulations governing crew and passengers on suborbital flights. Between 1999 and today there have been nearly 200 expendable launch vehicle launch attempts.

As the result of a steady and durable momentum … matched to a growing awareness of opportunities in space … all those things are now realities.

Spaceflight is changing. The wide circle of activity is expanding. Future vehicles will not all have “Property of the U.S. Government” stamped on them … whether they fly from the States … or from states overseas.

The fact is there is a private industry out there building the next epoch of transportation.

There are no parallels. Nothing compares. The new civilian spaceflight business is altogether different from predecessor carriers.

The genus might be familiar, perhaps the species, too. But this is the first time they’ve appeared together. In Latin … Volatus per inane homo privatus. “Spaceflight. Human. Private.”

Whatever space has been up until today, it is an emerging business now....


In an e-mail today, Patti told me, "My plan is to stay connected to space in some new capacity. I am very excited about exploring that and seeing where it takes me. I am fully committed to this industry and have much still to contribute."

Splendid. For now, we say best of luck to Patti! We look forward to news of her next, no doubt bold, steps. Meanwhile, we thank her for years of support and leadership in launching the new era of commercial space.

Now more than ever -- as Patti says -- space means business.

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