oversight

Commercial Space Launch Act: Preliminary Information on Issues to Consider for Reauthorization

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-06-06.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                             United States Government Accountability Office

GAO                          Testimony
                             Before the Subcommittee on Space, and
                             Aeronautics, Committee on Science,
                             Space, and Technology, House of
                             Representatives
                             COMMERCIAL SPACE
For Release on Delivery
Expected at 10:00 a.m. EDT
Wednesday, June 6, 2012

                             LAUNCH ACT
                             Preliminary Information on
                             Issues to Consider for
                             Reauthorization
                             Statement of Alicia Puente Cackley, Director
                             Financial Markets and Community Investment




GAO-12-767T
                                              June 6, 2012

                                              COMMERCIAL SPACE LAUNCH ACT
                                              Preliminary Information on Issues to Consider for
                                              Reauthorization
Highlights of GAO-12-767T, a testimony
before the Subcommittee on Space and
Aeronautics, Committee on Science, Space
and Technology, House of Representatives



Why GAO Did This Study                        What GAO Found
A catastrophic commercial launch              GAO’s work to date indicates that the United States provides less indemnification
accident could result in injuries or          for third party losses than China, France, and Russia, according to studies.
property damage to the uninvolved             These countries put no limit on the amount of government indemnification
public, or “third parties.” In anticipation   coverage currently available through the Commercial Space Launch Act
of such an event, a launch company            Amendments of 1988 (CSLA) which is about $2.7 billion per launch. These
must purchase a fixed amount of               commitments to pay have never been tested because there has never been a
insurance for each launch, per                third party claim that exceeded the launch company’s insurance and thus
calculation by FAA; the federal               reached the level of government indemnification.
government is potentially liable for
claims above that amount up to an             The potential cost to the federal government of indemnification for third party
additional $1.5 billion, adjusted for         losses is currently unclear. This is because it depends in part on the method
inflation, subject to congressional           used by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to calculate the amount of
appropriations. As of 2012, the               insurance that launch companies must purchase, which may not be sound. FAA
inflation-adjusted amount is about            has used the same method since 1988 and has not updated crucial components,
$2.7 billion. CSLA provides for this          such as the cost of a casualty. Estimating probable losses from a rare
payment, called indemnification. The          catastrophic event is difficult, and insurance industry officials and risk modeling
indemnification provision, unless             experts said that FAA’s method is outdated. FAA, however, has not had outside
reauthorized, expires this year.              experts or risk modelers review its appropriateness. An inaccurate calculation
This testimony provides preliminary           that understates the amount of insurance a launch provider must obtain would
information on, among other things,           increase the likelihood of costs to the federal government, whereas a calculation
(1) a comparison of the U.S.                  that overstates the amount of insurance would decrease the likelihood of federal
government’s indemnification policy to        costs. FAA officials said that their method was reasonable and conservative, but
policies of other countries, (2) the          they agreed that a review could be beneficial and that involvement of outside
federal government’s potential costs          experts might be helpful for improving their methodology. Overall, they said use
for indemnification, (3) the ability and      of more sophisticated methodologies would have to be balanced with the
willingness of the insurance market to        additional costs to both FAA and the launch companies that would result from
provide additional coverage, and              requiring and analyzing additional data.
(4) the effects of ending
indemnification on the competitiveness        The insurance market is generally willing and able to provide up to $500 million
of U.S. launch companies. This                per launch as coverage for third party liability, according to industry
testimony is based on ongoing work            representatives GAO contacted. Because the amount of insurance FAA requires
that includes a review of FAA data and        launch providers to obtain averages about $99 million per launch, and coverage
documents and relevant literature and         available through CSLA is about $2.7 billion above that, insurers could provide
interviews with officials from FAA,           some of the coverage currently available through CSLA. However, the amount
National Aeronautics and Space                and price of insurance that could be provided could change quickly if a large loss
Administration, insurers, brokers,            were to occur, according to insurance industry representatives.
launch companies, launch customers,
risk modelers, and experts.                   The actual effects on competition of eliminating CSLA indemnification are
                                              currently unknown. However, launch companies and customers GAO contacted
What GAO Recommends                           believe that ending federal indemnification could lead to higher launch prices for
GAO is making no recommendations in           U.S. launch companies, making them less competitive than foreign launch
this statement but anticipates doing so       companies. Although the cost of third party liability insurance coverage for launch
in its final report.                          companies has been about 1 percent the dollar amount of coverage they
                                              purchased, how much this cost might increase in the absence of federal
                                              coverage is not clear. Launch customers said that price and vehicle reliability
                                              were key factors in their choice of a launch company. Launch companies
View GAO-12-767T. For more information,       reported that additional costs would be passed along to customers, but whether
contact Alicia Puente Cackley at (202) 512-   this increase alone would be sufficient reason for a launch customer to choose a
8678 or cackleya@gao.gov.
                                              foreign launch company over a U.S. company is also not clear.
                                                                                      United States Government Accountability Office
Chairman Palazzo, Ranking Member Costello, and Members of the
Subcommittee:

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on commercial space launch
indemnification as you consider the upcoming reauthorization of the
federal coverage provided through the Commercial Space Launch Act
Amendments of 1988 (CSLA). 1 This legislation made the federal
government responsible, subject to an appropriation provided by
Congress, for a portion of third party liability claims that arise from a
catastrophic launch-related incident that results in injury or damage to
uninvolved people or property. 2 The goal was to provide a competitive
environment for the U.S. commercial space launch industry by providing,
among other things, government indemnity while still minimizing the cost
to taxpayers. As figure 1 shows, the number of U.S. commercial
launches, which are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA), has generally declined since its peak of 17 in 1998.




1
Pub. L. No. 100-657.
2
51 USC 50915.




Page 1                                                        GAO-12-767T
Figure 1: Annual Number of Commercial U.S. Space Launches, 1997-2011




Although the number of U.S. commercial space launches has fallen in
recent years, it is reasonable to expect an increase in the years ahead.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to
begin procuring commercial cargo transportation services to the
International Space Station (ISS) in 2012 and intends to procure
commercial manned launches to carry its astronauts to the ISS beginning
in 2017. 3 A number of companies are developing new launch vehicles
that could provide these orbital services. Other companies are developing
suborbital vehicles that could carry passengers for space tourism flights.




3
 All commercial missions for NASA thus far have been demonstration missions
conducted under Space Act agreements, which involve NASA providing
significant funds to private industry partners to stimulate the development of
large-scale commercial space transportation capabilities. NASA has procured
transportation services to the ISS to begin later in 2012 through traditional
contractual arrangements. For more information on Space Act agreements,
please see GAO, Key Controls NASA Employs to Guide Use and Management
of Funded Space Act Agreements Are Generally Sufficient, but Some Could Be
Strengthened and Clarified, GAO-12-230R (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 17, 2011).




Page 2                                                              GAO-12-767T
                       As you consider reauthorizing CSLA, our testimony today provides
                       preliminary information on the following issues: (1) how the current U.S.
                       commercial space launch indemnification policy compares to policies in
                       other countries; (2) the federal government’s potential costs under CSLA;
                       (3) the extent to which the insurance market is able and willing to provide
                       third party liability insurance at levels currently provided by CSLA; (4) the
                       implications of commercial manned launches for the current federal
                       indemnification policy, including the gaps, if any, that exist in that policy
                       and the potential financial risks those gaps pose; and (5) what is known
                       about the direct and indirect effects that ending indemnification would
                       have on the competitiveness of U.S. commercial launch companies.

                       This statement is based on ongoing work we are conducting at the
                       request of this committee and the Senate Committee on Commerce,
                       Science, and Transportation; we expect to issue a final report later this
                       year with recommendations, as appropriate. We reviewed launch data
                       from FAA and performed a literature search. We also reviewed
                       documents from and conducted interviews with insurance brokers and
                       underwriters who provide commercial launch companies with coverage
                       for third party liability, experts in commercial space launch liability issues
                       and risk management, representatives from launch companies and
                       customers, and officials from FAA and NASA. Additional information on
                       our methodology is provided in appendix I.

                       We conducted this performance audit from November 2011 to June 2012
                       in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
                       Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
                       sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
                       findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
                       the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
                       conclusions based on our audit objectives.



Background
U.S. Indemnification   The 1988 amendments to CSLA established the current U.S. policy to
Policy                 provide federal payment, subject to appropriation—known as
                       indemnification—for a portion of claims by third parties for injury, damage,




                       Page 3                                                              GAO-12-767T
or loss that result from a commercial launch-related incident. 4 All FAA-
licensed commercial launches and landings by U.S. companies, whether
unmanned or manned and from the United States or overseas, are
covered by federal indemnification for third party damages that result from
the launch or landing. 5 Parties involved in launches—for example,
passengers and crew—are not eligible for indemnification coverage. 6

U.S. indemnification policy has a three-tier approach for sharing liability
between the government and the private sector to cover third party
claims:

•   The first tier of coverage is the responsibility of the launch company
    and is handled under an insurance policy purchased by the launch
    company. As part of FAA’s process for issuing a license for a
    commercial launch or landing, the agency determines the amount of
    third party liability insurance a launch company is required to
    purchase so the launch company can compensate third parties for
    any claims for damages that occur as a result of activities carried out
    under the license. 7 FAA calculates the insurance amount to reflect the
    maximum probable loss that is likely to occur because of an accident
    that results in third party damages, including deaths and injuries on
    the ground and damage to property from spacecraft debris. 8 9 FAA
    uses a statistical approach to estimate expected losses based on
    estimated probabilities that a catastrophic incident could occur and
    the estimated costs of a catastrophic incident given the details of the



4
 Pub. L. No. 100-657.
5
 51 USC 50914(a)(1)(A).
6
 A crew includes any employee who performs activities directly relating to the launch,
reentry, or other operation relating to the vehicle that carries human beings. 51 USC
50902(2). A passenger—also called a spaceflight participant—is an individual who is not
crew, carried aboard a launch vehicle or reentry vehicle. 51 USC 50902(17).
7
 51 USC 50914.
8
 51 USC 50914(c).
9
  FAA makes this determination for each space launch by reviewing the specific
circumstances of the launch, including the planned launch vehicle, launch site, payload,
flight path, and the potential casualties and fatalities that could result from varying types of
launch failures at different points along that path. FAA estimates the total cost of
estimated casualties from a launch failure and uses this information as the basis for
determining property damage.




Page 4                                                                            GAO-12-767T
      specific launch. This first tier of required insurance coverage is
      capped at a maximum of $500 million for third party damages. 10

•     The second tier of coverage is provided by the U.S. government, and
      it covers any third party claims in excess of the specific first tier
      amount up to a limit of $1.5 billion adjusted for post-1988 inflation; in
      2012, the inflation-adjusted amount was approximately $2.7 billion. 11
      For the federal government to be liable for these claims, Congress
      would need to appropriate funds. This second tier of coverage will
      expire in December 2012 unless Congress reauthorizes it. 12 (The
      other two tiers have no expiration date.)

•     The third tier of coverage is for third party claims in excess of the
      second tier—that is, the federal coverage of $1.5 billion above the first
      tier, adjusted for inflation. Like the first tier, this third tier is the
      responsibility of the launch company, which may seek insurance
      above the required first tier amount for this coverage. Unlike the first
      tier, no insurance is required under federal law.
Another component of U.S. indemnification policy for commercial space
launches is cross waivers. They provide that each party involved in a
launch (such as the launch company, the spacecraft manufacturer, and
the customer) agrees not to bring claims against the other parties and
assumes financial responsibility for damage to its own property or loss or
injury sustained by its own employees. 13 Cross waivers also do not have
an expiration date.

According to FAA, no FAA-licensed commercial space launch since 1989
has resulted in casualties or substantial property damage to third parties.
In the event of a third party claim that exceeded the launch provider’s
first-tier coverage, FAA would be involved in any negotiations, according
to FAA officials, and the Secretary of Transportation must approve any
settlement. 14



10
    51 USC 50914(a)(3)(A)(i).
11
    51 USC 50915(a)(1).
12
    51 USC 50915(f).
13
    51 USC 50914(a)(4).
14
    51 USC 50915(b)(3).




Page 5                                                               GAO-12-767T
Global Commercial Space   From 2002 through 2011, U.S. companies conducted approximately 17
Launch Industry           percent of commercial space launches worldwide, while Russia
                          conducted 43 percent and France’s launch company conducted 24
                          percent. Figure 2 shows the trend in number of commercial space
                          launches over the last 10 years.

                          Figure 2: Number of Commercial Space Launches Worldwide, 2002-2011




                          Over the past several years Russian and French launches have
                          generated the most revenues, followed by U.S. launches. In 8 of the last
                          10 years, U.S. commercial launch companies generated less revenue
                          than launches in either Russia or France. U.S. companies generated no
                          commercial launch revenue in 2011 because they conducted no
                          launches. (See fig. 3.)




                          Page 6                                                               GAO-12-767T
Figure 3: Commercial Space Launch Revenues Worldwide, 2002-2011




Note: India is not included in this figure due to its small amount of revenues.




Page 7                                                                            GAO-12-767T
                       Our work to date indicates that the United States provides less total third
The United States      party liability coverage than China, France, or Russia—the primary
Provides Less          countries that have conducted commercial space launches in the last 5
                       years—according to published reports. 15 These countries each have an
Liability Coverage     indemnification regime in which the government states that it will assume
Than Foreign           a greater share of the risk compared to that of the United States because
Competitors Due to a   each country has a two-tiered system with no limit on the amount of
                       government indemnification. By comparison, the United States caps
Cap on Government      government indemnification at $1.5 billion adjusted for inflation beyond
Indemnification        the first-tier insurance amount. 16 However, U.S. government coverage, in
                       some cases, begins at a lower level than that of the other countries
                       because U.S. coverage begins above the maximum probable loss, which
                       averaged about $99 million for active FAA launch and reentry licenses as
                       of January 2012 and ranged from about $23 million to $267 million. The
                       level at which government coverage begins for the other four countries
                       ranged from $79 million to $300 million.

                       China, France, and Russia have a first tier of insurance coverage that a
                       commercial launch company must obtain, similar to the United States.
                       The second tier of government indemnification varies for these countries:

                       •     The Chinese government provides indemnification for third party
                             claims over $100 million.
                       •     The French government provides indemnification for third party claims
                             over 60 million euros (about $75 million as of May 2012).
                       •     The Russian government provides indemnification for third party
                             claims over $80 million for the smaller Start launch vehicles and $300
                             million for the larger Soyuz and Proton vehicles. 17
                       For all these countries, their commitments to pay have never been tested.
                       Globally, there has never been a third party claim for damages from a
                       commercial space launch failure that reached second-tier coverage.



                       15
                         In addition, India conducted one commercial space launch during this period, but we
                       found conflicting information on the Indian government’s indemnification coverage, and
                       therefore we are not including it in this discussion.
                       16
                           51 USC 50915(a)(1)(B).
                       17
                         The source for all the government amounts is Aerospace Corporation, Study of the
                       Liability Risk-Sharing Regime in the United States for Commercial Space Transportation
                       (El Segundo, Calif.: August 2006), or FAA, Liability Risk-Sharing Regime for U.S.
                       Commercial Space Transportation: Study and Analysis (Washington, D.C.: April 2002).




                       Page 8                                                                       GAO-12-767T
Potential Cost of
Indemnification by
the Federal
Government Depends
on a Variety of
Factors
Catastrophic Events and   The federal government’s potential costs under CSLA depend on (1) the
Congressional             occurrence of a catastrophic launch failure with third party claims that
Appropriations            exceed the first tier of coverage and (2) Congress appropriating funds to
                          cover the government’s liability under the second tier of coverage. FAA
                          officials stated that no FAA-licensed commercial space launches have
                          resulted in casualties or substantial property damage to third parties. As a
                          result, FAA believes that it is highly unlikely that there will be any costs to
                          the federal government under CSLA. In the event that a catastrophic
                          failure did occur, FAA’s maximum probable loss calculation is intended to
                          estimate the maximum losses likely to occur from a commercial space
                          launch and determine the amount of third party losses against which
                          launch companies must protect. In calculating maximum probable loss,
                          FAA aims to include estimates of losses from events having greater than
                          a 1 in 10 million chance of occurring, meaning that losses are very
                          unlikely to exceed launch companies’ private insurance and become
                          potential costs for the government under CSLA.

                          Under CSLA, if a rare catastrophic event were to occur whose losses
                          exceeded private insurance coverage, the government would be
                          responsible for paying claims that exceeded FAA’s maximum probable
                          loss only if Congress provided appropriations for this purpose. Under
                          CSLA, the federal government does not incur a legal liability unless an
                          appropriation is made for this purpose. 18 Accordingly, an obligation would
                          not be recorded in the federal budget unless and until such an
                          appropriation is made. While an obligation is not incurred or recorded for



                          18
                            CSLA requires the Secretary of Transportation to provide for the payment of specific
                          types of successful third party claims to the extent provided in advance in an appropriation
                          law or to the extent additional legislative authority is enacted providing for paying for
                          claims in a compensation plan submitted to Congress by the President. 51 U.S.C. § 50915
                          (a)(1).




                          Page 9                                                                         GAO-12-767T
                        potential CSLA losses until an appropriation is provided, some insurance
                        companies told us that they expect the government to pay losses that
                        become eligible for coverage under CSLA.


Maximum Probable Loss   While it is very difficult to assess catastrophic failures that have low
Soundness               probabilities but potentially high losses, FAA’s use of an appropriate
                        process for determining the maximum probable loss is important because
                        the maximum probable loss sets the point at which losses become
                        potential costs to the government under CSLA. Our preliminary work
                        identified several issues that raise questions about the soundness of
                        FAA’s maximum probable loss methodology:

                        •   FAA uses a figure of $3 million when estimating the cost of a single
                            potential casualty—that includes either injury or death—which FAA
                            officials said has not been updated since they began using it in 1988.
                            Two insurers, as well as representatives of two companies that
                            specialize in estimating damages from catastrophic events (modeling
                            companies), said that this figure is likely understated. Because this
                            number has not been adjusted for inflation or updated in other ways, it
                            may not adequately represent the current cost of injury or death
                            caused by commercial space launch failures. Having a reasonable
                            casualty estimate can affect FAA’s maximum probable loss
                            calculation and could affect the potential cost to the government from
                            third party claims.

                        •   FAA’s methodology for determining potential property damage from a
                            commercial space launch starts with the total cost of casualties and
                            adds a flat 50 percent to that cost as the estimate of property damage,
                            rather than specifically analyzing the number and value of properties
                            that could be affected in the event of a launch failure. One insurer and
                            two risk modelers said that FAA’s approach is unusual and generally
                            not used to estimate potential losses from catastrophic events. For
                            example, officials from both modeling companies noted that the more
                            common approach is to model the property losses first and derive the
                            casualty estimates from the estimated property losses. For example, if
                            a property loss scenario involves the collapse of a building, that
                            scenario would have a different casualty expectation than a scenario
                            that did not involve such a collapse. One modeler stated that FAA’s
                            method might significantly understate the number of potential
                            casualties, noting that an event that has a less than 1 in 10 million
                            chance of occurring is likely to involve significantly more casualties
                            than predicted under FAA’s approach. Moreover, a 2007 FAA review



                        Page 10                                                          GAO-12-767T
     conducted with outside consultants said that this approach is not
     recommended because of observed instances where casualties were
     low yet forecasted property losses were very large. 19

•    More broadly, FAA’s method does not incorporate what is known in
     the insurance industry as “catastrophe modeling.” One modeler told
     us that catastrophe modeling has matured over the last 25 years—as
     a result of better data, more scientific research, and advances in
     computing—and has become standard practice in the insurance and
     reinsurance industries. 20 Catastrophe models consist of two
     components: a computer program that mathematically simulates the
     type of event being insured against and a highly detailed database of
     properties that could potentially be exposed to loss. Tens of
     thousands or more computer simulations are generated to create a
     distribution of potential losses and the simulated probability of
     different levels of loss. 21 In contrast, FAA’s method involves
     estimating a single loss scenario.
FAA officials told us that they have considered the possibility of using a
catastrophe model. However, they expressed concern about whether the
more sophisticated approach would be more accurate, given the great
uncertainty about the assumptions, such as the probability and size of
potential damages, that must be made with any model. Also, industry
experts told us that a significant cost factor in catastrophe modeling is
creating and maintaining a detailed database of exposed properties. One
expert told us that in order for FAA to do such modeling, it would need to
purchase a property exposure database, which could cost hundreds of
thousands of dollars. Experts also disagreed on how feasible it would be
to mathematically model the potential damages associated with space
launches. One expert thought such modeling would not be credible
because the necessary knowledge of the factors that can influence a
space launch is not at the same level as the more developed research for
modeling hurricanes, for example. Another expert thought that it would be



19
 For more information on FAA’s methodology, see J.D. Collins, C.P. Brinkman, and C.L.
Carbon, ACTA Inc., and FAA, Determination of Maximum Probable Loss (2007).
20
  Reinsurance is essentially insurance for insurers—that is, companies buy coverage for
all or a part of a policy’s liability from other insurers in order to offset exposure.
21
  The probability distribution of losses is typically presented in what is known as an
exceedance probability curve, which shows the probability of losses exceeding various
levels.




Page 11                                                                      GAO-12-767T
possible to develop credible space launch simulation models. Another
expert stated that such models have not been developed to date because
of the government-provided indemnity coverage; this expert believed that
if such coverage were the responsibility of the private sector, the
necessary models might be developed.

FAA officials also said that they believe the maximum probable loss
methodology is reasonable and produces conservative results for several
reasons. First, FAA officials described a 2002 study on aviation casualty
costs to support its use of a $3 million casualty figure for its calculation.
Use of a casualty estimate that is based on 2002 data, however, still
raises questions about whether this figure is outdated, which could result
in underestimating the cost of casualties. Second, to support basing the
potential cost of property damage on the potential cost of casualties, FAA
officials said that they have conducted internal analyses using alternative
methodologies—including some that assessed property values in the
vicinity of launches—and compared them to their current methodology. In
each case, officials said that the current methodology produced higher, or
more conservative, maximum probable losses. We were unable to review
or verify these analyses, however, because FAA officials said that these
analyses were done informally and were not documented.

FAA officials acknowledged that updating the $3 million casualty figure
and conducting analyses of potential property damage (rather than using
a casualty cost adjustment factor of 50 percent) might produce more
precise estimates of maximum probable losses. However, they said that
because the probabilities assigned to such losses are still rough
estimates, whether taking these actions would increase the accuracy of
their maximum probable loss calculations is uncertain. Overall, they said,
use of more sophisticated methodologies would have to be balanced with
the additional costs to both FAA and the launch companies that would
result from requiring and analyzing additional data. For example, a new
methodology might require either FAA or the launch company to gather
current property information, and might necessitate that FAA construct a
statistical model for analyzing potential losses.

The same officials noted that they periodically evaluate their current
maximum probable loss methodology, but acknowledged that they have
not used outside experts or risk modelers for this purpose. They agreed
that such a review could be beneficial, and that involvement of outside
experts might be helpful for improving their maximum probable loss
methodology. FAA’s 2007 review of potential alternatives identified a
number of criteria for a sound maximum probable loss methodology that


Page 12                                                           GAO-12-767T
                        could be useful in such a review. These included, among other things,
                        that the process use a valid risk analysis, be logical and lead to a rational
                        conclusion, and avoid being overly conservative or under conservative. A
                        sound maximum probable loss calculation can be beneficial to both the
                        government and launch companies because it can help ensure that the
                        government is not exposed to greater costs than intended (such as might
                        occur through an understated maximum probable loss) and help ensure
                        that launch companies are not required to purchase more insurance
                        coverage than necessary (such as might occur through an overstated
                        maximum probable loss).



Current Private
Market Capacity for
Coverage Is Generally
$500 Million per
Launch, but a Large
Loss Could Decrease
Capacity

Private Capacity        Our preliminary work found that some insurers and brokers suggested
                        that the maximum amount of private sector third party liability coverage
                        the industry is currently willing to provide is generally around $500 million
                        per launch. This amount, or capacity, is determined by the amount of their
                        own capital that individual insurers are willing to risk by selling this type of
                        coverage. According to some insurers and brokers with whom we spoke,
                        commercial space launch third party liability coverage is a specialized
                        market involving a relatively small number of insurers that each assume a
                        portion of the risk for each launch. One broker said that no launch
                        company thus far has pursued private sector insurance protection above
                        $500 million. Two insurers said that there might be slightly more coverage
                        available beyond $500 million, and one said that up to $1 billion per
                        launch in liability coverage might be possible in the private insurance
                        market.

                        The cost to launch companies for purchasing third party liability
                        insurance, according to some brokers and one insurer, is approximately 1
                        percent or less of the total coverage amount. According to FAA data on
                        commercial launches, the average maximum probable loss is about $99


                        Page 13                                                             GAO-12-767T
                    million. As a result, in the absence of CSLA indemnification, insurers
                    could still provide some of the coverage currently available through the
                    government under CSLA. For example, if the maximum probable loss for
                    a launch is $100 million and the insurance industry is willing to offer up to
                    $500 million in coverage, the private market could potentially provide
                    $400 million in additional coverage.

                    According to some insurers, brokers, and insurance experts with whom
                    we spoke, there are a number of reasons why private sector insurers are
                    generally unwilling to offer more third party liability coverage than $500
                    million per launch.

                    •   First, these brokers and insurers said that worldwide capacity for third
                        party liability coverage is generally limited to $500 million per launch,
                        which some considered a significant amount of coverage and a
                        challenging amount to put together—particularly given that the
                        number of insurers in the space launch market is relatively small.
                    •   Second, according to these same officials, insurers are unwilling to
                        expose their capital above certain amounts for coverage that at least
                        currently brings in small amounts of premium relative to the potential
                        payouts for losses. For example, they said that losses from a
                        catastrophic launch accident could exceed many years of third party
                        liability policy premiums and jeopardize insurers’ solvency.
                    •   Third, according to some insurers and brokers with whom we spoke,
                        to have sufficient capital to pay for losses above $500 million per
                        launch would require insurers to charge policy premiums that would
                        likely be unaffordable for space launch companies.

Changes to Market   Our preliminary work also indicates that the current amount of private
Capacity            market capacity could change due to loss events and changing market
                    conditions, according to some insurance industry participants. Some
                    insurers and brokers said that a launch failure could affect the level and
                    cost of coverage offered, and that a launch failure with significant losses
                    could quickly raise insurance prices and reduce capacity, potentially
                    below levels required by FAA’s maximum probable loss calculation.
                    However, one risk expert suggested that a space launch failure would
                    likely cause liability insurance rates to rise and that this might encourage
                    insurers and capital to enter the space launch market and cause liability
                    insurance capacity to increase. According to FAA, insurers have paid no
                    claims for U.S. commercial launches to date, but they have paid some
                    relatively small third party claims for U.S. military and NASA launch
                    failures. For example, according to an insurance broker, a U.S. Air Force
                    launch failure in 2006 resulted in property damage of approximately $30


                    Page 14                                                            GAO-12-767T
                          million. According to NASA, the Space Shuttle Columbia accident in 2003
                          resulted in property damage of approximately $1.2 million. Two brokers
                          said that given the low number of launches and low probability of
                          catastrophic events, total worldwide premiums for space liability coverage
                          are approximately $25 million annually, amounts insurers believe are
                          adequate to cover expected losses. However, if a large loss occurs,
                          according to two insurers, they would likely increase their estimates of the
                          potential losses associated with all launches.

                          Under CSLA, launch companies must purchase coverage to meet FAA’s
                          maximum probable loss amount or purchase the maximum amount of
                          coverage available in the world market at reasonable cost, as determined
                          by FAA. 22 The potential cost to the government could increase if losses
                          caused insurance prices to rise and insurance amounts available at
                          reasonable cost to decrease. Some insurers and brokers also said that
                          the amount of insurance the private market is willing to sell for third party
                          liability coverage for space launches can also be affected by changes in
                          other insurance markets. For example, large losses in aviation insurance
                          or in reinsurance markets could decrease the amount of capital insurers
                          would be willing to commit to launch events because losses in the other
                          markets would decrease the total pools of capital available.


Alternatives for          Because launch failures and changing market conditions could change
Addressing Space Launch   the amounts of coverage available in the private market, you have
Risk                      expressed interest in other possible ways of managing catastrophic risk.
                          While we have not conducted specific work to analyze the feasibility of
                          alternative approaches for providing coverage currently available through
                          CSLA, FAA and others have looked at possible alternatives to CSLA
                          indemnification and we have examined different methods for addressing
                          the risk of catastrophic losses associated with natural disasters and acts
                          of terrorism. 23 These events, like space launch failures, have a low


                          22
                           51 USC 50914(a)(3).
                          23
                            See FAA, Liability and Risk-Sharing Regime for U.S. Commercial Space Transportation:
                          Study and Analysis, and Aerospace Corporation, Study of the Liability Risk-Sharing
                          Regime in the United States for Commercial Space Transportation. See also GAO,
                          Catastrophe Insurance Risks: The Role of Risk-Linked Securities and Factors Affecting
                          Their Use, GAO-02-941 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 24, 2002); Catastrophe Insurance
                          Risks: The Role of Risk-Linked Securities, GAO-03-195T (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 8,
                          2002); and GAO, Natural Disasters: Public Policy Options for Changing the Federal Role
                          in Natural Catastrophe Insurance, GAO-08-7 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 26, 2007).




                          Page 15                                                                   GAO-12-767T
probability of occurrence but potentially high losses. Some methods
involve the private sector, including going beyond the traditional
insurance industry, in providing coverage, and include the use of
catastrophe bonds or tax incentives to insurers to develop catastrophe
surplus funds. Other methods aid those at risk in setting aside funds to
cover their own and possibly others’ losses, such as through self-
insurance or risk pools. 24 Still other methods, such as those used for flood
and terrorism insurance, involve the government in either providing
subsidized coverage or acting as a backstop to private insurers. 25

Use of any such alternatives could be complex and would require a
systematic consideration of their feasibility and appropriateness for third
party liability insurance for space launches. For example, according to a
broker and a risk expert, a lack of loss experience complicates possible
ways of addressing commercial space launch third party liability risk, and
according to another risk expert, any alternative approaches for managing
this risk would need to consider key factors, including the

•    number of commercial space launch companies and insurers and
     annual launches among which to spread risk and other associated
     costs;
•    lack of launch and loss experience and its impact on predicting and
     measuring risk, particularly for catastrophic losses; and
•    potential cost to private insurers, launch companies and their
     customers, and the federal government.
As such, alternatives could potentially require a significant amount of time
to implement.




24
  See GAO, Catastrophe Insurance Risks: Status of Efforts to Securitize Natural
Catastrophe and Terrorism Risk, GAO-03-1033 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 24, 2003). Self-
insurance occurs when an entity assumes the risk for its losses and can involve the
formation of an insurance company solely for that purpose. Risk pooling occurs when two
or more entities agree to set aside funds to help pay for the others’ losses.
25
  See GAO, Flood Insurance: FEMA’s Rate-Setting Process Warrants Attention,
GAO-09-12 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 31, 2008), and Terrorism Insurance: Status of Efforts
by Policyholders to Obtain Coverage, GAO-08-1057 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 15, 2008).




Page 16                                                                    GAO-12-767T
Forecasted Increase
in Manned Launches
and Landings Could
Increase the Potential
Costs for the Federal
Government, and
Current Coverage Has
a Gap
Issues and Implications   Our preliminary work indicates the planned increase in manned
Relating to Commercial    commercial launches raises a number of issues that have implications for
Manned Launches           the federal government’s indemnification policy for third party liability,
                          according to insurance officials and experts with whom we spoke. NASA
                          expects to begin procuring manned commercial launches to transport
                          astronauts to the ISS in 2017. In addition, private companies are also
                          developing space launch vehicles that could carry passengers for space
                          tourism flights.

                          First, the number of launches and landings covered by federal
                          indemnification will increase with NASA’s planned manned launches if
                          they are determined to be FAA-licensed commercial launches. NASA
                          expects to procure from private launch companies 2 manned launches
                          per year to the ISS from 2017 to 2020. NASA and FAA have not yet
                          determined if those launches will be covered under NASA’s procurement
                          policy or FAA’s licensing regulations. 26 In addition, the development of a
                          space tourism industry may also increase the number of launches and
                          landings covered by federal indemnification, but the timing of tourism


                          26
                             NASA-contracted launches for NASA’s science missions are not currently covered by
                          CSLA; rather, NASA requires its launch contractors to obtain insurance coverage for third
                          party losses. The amount of the insurance required by NASA is the maximum amount
                          available in the commercial marketplace at reasonable cost, but does not exceed $500
                          million for each launch. The facts and circumstances for claims in excess of this amount
                          would be forwarded by NASA to the Congress for its consideration 51 U.S.C. § 20113 (m)
                          (2). NASA-contracted launches for the Commercial Resupply Services to the ISS will be
                          licensed by the FAA under CSLA, and will be covered by CSLA indemnification. NASA
                          has not yet determined if its commercially procured manned launches to the ISS will be
                          FAA licensed. If they become FAA licensed, then third party claims for those launches
                          would be covered by the CSLA indemnification policy.




                          Page 17                                                                      GAO-12-767T
launches and landings is uncertain. Among the potential space tourism
companies, Virgin Galactic is the closest to conducting suborbital,
manned launches, according to FAA. Virgin Galactic forecasts launches
starting in 2014 and, according to the company, 500 individuals have
made deposits for the $200,000 fare. However, Virgin Galactic has not
yet applied to FAA for a launch license and its planned schedule for
flights has experienced delays in the past.

According to insurance company officials with whom we spoke, the
potential volume of manned launches for NASA and for space tourism
could increase the overall amount of insurance coverage needed by
launch companies, which could raise insurance costs, including those for
third party liability. 27 By increasing the volume of launches, the probability
of a catastrophe occurring is also increased and any accident that occurs
could also increase future insurance costs, according to insurance
company officials with whom we spoke. A catastrophic accident could
also result in third party losses over the maximum probable loss, which
would invoke federal indemnification.

Second, because newly developed manned launch vehicles have less
launch history they are viewed by the insurance industry as more risky
than “legacy” launch vehicles. Insurance company officials told us that
launch vehicles such as United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V, which launches
satellites and may be used for future manned missions, is seen as less
risky than new launch vehicles, such as SpaceX’s Falcon 9, which could
also be used for manned missions. As of May 2012, Atlas V has had over
two dozen launches with a 100 percent launch success rate; Falcon 9 has
had 3 successful launches. According to insurance company officials with
whom we spoke, they expect to charge higher insurance premiums for
newly developed launch vehicles than legacy launch vehicles given their
different risk profiles. Insurance company officials’ opinions varied as to
when a launch vehicle is deemed reliable—from 5 to 10 successful
launches. They also told us that whether vehicles are manned is
secondary to the launch vehicle’s history and the launch’s trajectory—
over water or land—in determining risk and the price and amount of third
party liability coverage.




27
  Launch providers obtain insurance in addition to that for third party liability, including
coverage of assets, such as the launch vehicle.




Page 18                                                                            GAO-12-767T
Third, having any people on board a space vehicle raises issues of
informed consent and cross waivers, which could affect third party liability
and the potential cost to the federal government. CSLA requires
passengers and crew on spaceflights to be informed by the launch
company of the risks involved and to sign a reciprocal waiver of claims
(also called a cross waiver) with the federal government—which means
that the party agrees not to seek claims against the federal government if
an accident occurs. 28 CSLA also requires cross waivers among all
involved parties in a launch. 29 Two key issues dealing with cross waivers
include the estates of spaceflight passengers and crew and limits on
liability for involved parties.

•     The estates of spaceflight passengers and crew, which are
      considered third parties to a launch, are not covered by the informed
      consent and cross waiver of claims, according to two insurance
      companies and one legal expert. Although an insurance company
      said that it would be difficult for estates to seek damages in case of an
      accident, the legal expert said that the informed consent requirement
      does not address future litigation issues. Officials from two Insurance
      companies and one expert told us that they expect spaceflight
      passengers to be high-income individuals, which could result in large
      insurance claims by estates of the passengers, as determination of
      the amount of claims is based on an individual’s expected earning
      capacity over his or her lifetime.

•     According to two insurance companies and two legal experts,
      requiring cross waivers among passengers, crew, the launch
      company, and other involved parties may not minimize potential third
      party claims as they would not place limitations on liability. An
      insurance company and a legal expert stated that, without a limitation
      on liability, insurance premiums for third party and other launch
      insurance coverage could increase as the same small number of
      insurance companies insures passengers, crew, launch vehicles, as
      well as third parties to a launch. According to FAA, putting a limitation
      on spaceflight passenger liability could foster the development of the
      commercial space launch industry through lower costs for insurance
      and liability exposure. Liability exposure and the related litigation



28
    51 USC 50905(b)(5).
29
    51 USC 50914(b)(1).




Page 19                                                              GAO-12-767T
                       impose costs on industries and the limitation on liability shifts the risk
                       to spaceflight passengers, who have been informed of the launch
                       risks. If limitations on liability were set by federal legislation, it could
                       conflict with state law because at least five states currently have their
                       own space liability and indemnity laws limiting liability. 30 Launch and
                       insurance companies believe that a limit or cap on passenger liability
                       could decrease uncertainty and consequently decrease the price of
                       insurance, according to a FAA task force report. 31
                  As previously discussed, the potential cost to the government depends on
                  the accuracy of the maximum probable loss calculation, which assesses a
                  launch’s risk. If the calculation is understated, then the government’s
                  exposure to liability is higher. Thus, whether the launch vehicle is newly
                  developed or manned, the effect on the government’s potential cost for
                  third party claims is still based on how accurately the maximum probable
                  loss calculation assesses launch risks. FAA officials told us that they
                  intend to use the same maximum probable loss assessment method for
                  manned launches as they currently do with unmanned launches.


Gap in Federal    Officials from the insurance industry and space launch companies and an
Indemnification   expert told us that a gap in federal indemnification is the lack of coverage
                  of on-orbit activities—that is, activities not related to launch or reentry,
                  such as docking with the ISS and relocating a satellite from one orbit to
                  another orbit—but they did not agree on the need to close this gap. FAA
                  licenses commercial launches and reentries, but does not license on-orbit
                  activities. Federal indemnification only applies to FAA-licensed space
                  activities. NASA’s commercial manned launches to the ISS will involve
                  on-orbit activities, including docking with the ISS, will be subject to the
                  cross waivers of liability required by agreements with participating
                  countries. This cross waiver is not applicable when CSLA is applicable,
                  such as during a licensed launch or reentry, and it does not address
                  liability for damage to non-ISS parties such as other orbiting spacecraft.
                  Claims between NASA and the launch company are not affected by the
                  ISS cross waiver and are historically addressed as a contractual
                  agreement. In addition, Virgin Galactic operations will only have
                  suborbital launches and reentries and no on-orbit activities that require


                  30
                   Those states are Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Texas, and Virginia.
                  31
                    FAA, FAA’s Response to NASA on the Insurance Task for Commercial Crew
                  (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 30, 2012).




                  Page 20                                                                 GAO-12-767T
                        regulation. Therefore, according to officials from two launch companies,
                        they did not believe that on-orbit activities need to be regulated by FAA or
                        that federal indemnification coverage should be provided. However, one
                        insurer noted that other proposed manned launches—such as Bigelow’s
                        planned on-orbit “hotel”—will not be NASA related and therefore will not
                        covered by any regulatory regime. An expert noted that such a proposal
                        for an on-orbit hotel remains an open question regarding regulation and
                        liability exposure. In addition, the expert noted that federal oversight of
                        on-orbit activities may be needed to provide consistency and coordination
                        among agencies that have on-orbit jurisdiction. He pointed out that the
                        Federal Communications Commission and the National Oceanic and
                        Atmospheric Administration have jurisdiction over their satellites and
                        NASA has jurisdiction over the ISS. Thus, according to the expert, there
                        should be one federal agency that coordinates regulatory authority over
                        on-orbit activities.

                        FAA may seek statutory authority over on-orbit activities, according to
                        senior agency officials. They further explained that they are not seeking
                        on-orbit authority for satellite or spectrum usage. An insurer told us that
                        having FAA in charge from launch to landing would help ensure that there
                        were no gaps in coverage. According to this insurer, this would help bring
                        stability to the insurance market in the event of an accident as involved
                        parties would be clear on which party is liable for which activities.
                        However, having FAA license on-orbit activities would increase the
                        potential costs to the federal government for third party claims. If FAA
                        obtains authority to license on-orbit activities then the potential costs to
                        the government may increase as its exposure to risk increases.


                        Our work to date suggests that while the actual effects on competition of
Ending                  eliminating CSLA indemnification are unknown, several launch
Indemnification Could   companies and customers with whom we spoke said that in the absence
                        of CSLA indemnification, increased risk and higher costs would directly
Potentially Decrease    affect launch companies and indirectly affect their customers and
U.S. Competitiveness    suppliers. The same participants said that two key factors—launch price
                        and launch vehicle reliability—generally determine the competitiveness of
                        launch companies. According to two launch customers, launch prices for
                        similar missions can vary dramatically across countries. For example, two
                        customers said that a similar launch might cost about $40 million to $60
                        million with a Chinese launch company, about $80 million to $100 million
                        with a French launch company, and approximately $120 million with a
                        U.S. launch company. However, another U.S. launch company told us
                        that it is developing a vehicle for a similar launch for which it intends to


                        Page 21                                                          GAO-12-767T
charge about $50 million. Other considerations also would be involved in
selecting a launch company, according to launch customers with whom
we spoke. For example, some said that export restrictions for U.S.
customers could add to their costs or prevent them from using certain
launch companies. One launch customer also said that it considers the
costs of transporting the satellite to the launch site as well as other
specific aspects of a given launch.

Launch company officials said that the lack of government indemnification
would decrease their global competitiveness by increasing launch costs.
Launch company officials said their costs would increase as a result of
their likely purchase of greater levels of insurance to protect against the
increased potential for third party losses, as the launch companies
themselves would be responsible for all potential third party claims, not
just those up to the maximum probable loss amount. As previously
discussed, whether the private insurance market has the capacity to
provide coverage at levels currently provided by the government, or at
what price they might sell such coverage, is uncertain. Some launch
company officials said that their costs may also increase if their suppliers
decided to charge more for their products or services as a result being at
greater risk from a lack of CSLA indemnification. That is, to compensate
for their greater exposure to potential third party claims, some suppliers
might determine that they need to charge more for their products to cover
the increased risks they are now assuming. Some launch companies told
us that they would likely pass additional costs on to their customers by
increasing launch prices. Two launch customers told us that in turn, they
would pass on additional costs to their customers. Several also told us
that they might increase the amount of their own third party liability
insurance, another cost they might pass on to their customers. Two said
they might be more likely to choose a foreign provider if the price of U.S.
launches rose.

According to launch companies and customers we spoke with, ending
CSLA indemnification would also decrease the competitiveness of U.S.
launch companies because launch customers would be exposed to more
risk than if they used launch companies in countries with government
indemnification. For example, officials from several launch companies
and customers said that if some aspect of the launch payload is
determined to have contributed to a launch failure, they could be exposed
to claims for damages from third parties. Launch customers are currently
protected from such claims through the CSLA indemnification program.
Several launch customers with whom we spoke said that without CSLA



Page 22                                                          GAO-12-767T
               indemnification they might be more likely to use a launch company in a
               country where the government provides third party indemnification.

               According to launch companies with whom we spoke, ending CSLA
               indemnification could also have other negative effects. For example,
               some said that the increased potential for significant financial loss for third
               party claims could cause launch companies, customers, or suppliers to
               reassess whether the benefits of staying in the launch business outweigh
               the risks. If some companies decided it was no longer worthwhile to be
               involved in the launch business, it could result in lost jobs and industrial
               capacity. Lastly, one industry participant pointed out that some suppliers,
               such as those that build propulsion systems, have to maintain significant
               amounts of manufacturing capacity whether they build one product or
               many. If there are fewer launches, the cost of maintaining that capacity
               will be spread among these fewer launches, resulting in a higher price for
               each launch. To the extent that the federal government is a customer that
               relies on private launch companies for its space launch needs, it too could
               face potentially higher launch costs.

               The actual effects of eliminating CSLA indemnification are unknown. For
               example, we do not know how insurance premiums or other costs might
               change as well as the availability of coverage. In addition, we do not know
               whether or to what extent launch customers might choose foreign launch
               companies over U.S. companies. Furthermore, it is difficult to separate
               out the effects of withdrawing indemnification on the overall
               competitiveness of the U.S. commercial space launch industry. Many
               factors affect the industry’s competitiveness, including other U.S.
               government support, such as research and development funds,
               government launch contracts, and use of its launch facilities, in addition to
               the third party indemnification.


               Although the number of commercial launches by U.S. companies has
Concluding     generally decreased over the past few years, commercial space is a
Observations   dynamic industry with newly developing space vehicles and missions.
               With the termination of the shuttle program, NASA plans to procure cargo
               delivery to the ISS from private launch companies later in 2012 and
               intends to use private companies to carry astronauts to the ISS starting in
               2017. In addition, private launch companies have been developing launch
               vehicles that will eventually carry passengers as part of an emerging
               space tourism industry. Our work to date suggests that both of these
               developments may increase the number and type of flights eligible for
               third party liability indemnification under CSLA. As the industry changes


               Page 23                                                            GAO-12-767T
                   and grows, continually assessing federal liability indemnification policy to
                   ensure that it protects both launch companies and the federal government
                   will be important. As we complete our analysis, we will more fully address
                   any additional federal actions needed in response to these developments.


                   We provided a draft of this statement to FAA and NASA. FAA provided no
Agency Comments    comments and NASA provided technical comments which we
                   incorporated as appropriate.


                   Chairman Palazzo, Ranking Member Costello, and Members of the
                   Subcommittee, this concludes my prepared statement. I would be
                   pleased to respond to any questions that you may have at this time.


                   If you or your staff have any questions about this testimony, please
GAO Contacts and   contact Alicia Puente Cackley at (202) 512-8678 or cackleya@gao.gov.
Staff              Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public
                   Affairs may be found on the last page of this statement. GAO staff who
Acknowledgments    made key contributions to this testimony are listed in appendix II.




                   Page 24                                                          GAO-12-767T
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology
             Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




             To determine how the current U.S. commercial space launch
             indemnification policy compares to policies in other countries we
             conducted a literature review and selected four countries for
             comparison—China, France, India, and Russia—because they are the
             only countries other than the United States that have conducted
             commercial space launches in the last 5 years. Our source for the
             amounts of government indemnification provided by these countries is a
             2006 Aerospace Corporation report and a 2002 Federal Aviation
             Administration (FAA) report. 1 To the extent possible, we verified
             information from the literature review through discussions with officials
             from FAA, insurance companies, launch companies, and experts. We did
             not find sufficiently reliable information about India to report on its
             government indemnification.

             To determine the federal government’s potential costs under the
             Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments of 1988 (CSLA), we
             reviewed CSLA, our past work on the budget treatment of insurance
             programs, and FAA’s maximum probable loss calculation. We also
             interviewed FAA officials and experts in risk modeling. To determine the
             extent to which the insurance market is able and willing to provide third
             party liability insurance at levels currently provided by CSLA, we reviewed
             CSLA to determine the amount of coverage the act provides commercial
             launch companies; reviewed relevant industry reports; and interviewed
             officials from FAA, insurance companies, and brokerage companies. We
             also interviewed launch company officials to determine the additional
             coverage they might seek absent CSLA indemnification. To determine a
             range of paid claims, we reviewed data from the National Aeronautics and
             Space Administration (NASA) on third party claims that have been paid
             as the result of the Space Shuttle Columbia accident and from an
             insurance official on third party claims paid as a result of a U.S. Air Force
             launch accident. We found the data sufficiently reliable for our purposes.

             To determine issues and implications of commercial manned launches for
             the current federal indemnification policy, including the gaps, if any, that
             exist in that policy and the potential financial risks those gaps pose, we
             interviewed officials from FAA, NASA, insurance companies, brokerage


             1
              The Aerospace Corporation, Study of the Liability Risk-Sharing Regime in the United
             States for Commercial Space Transportation (El Segundo, Calif.: August 2006), and FAA,
             Liability Risk-Sharing Regime for U.S. Commercial Space Transportation: Study and
             Analysis (Washington, D.C.: April 2002).




             Page 25                                                                   GAO-12-767T
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




companies, and launch companies, and experts. To determine what is
known about the effects of ending indemnification on the competitiveness
of U.S. commercial launch companies, we obtained information from FAA
on launches, payloads, and revenues from 1997 through 2011. As the
information was used for background, we did not assess the reliability of
the data. We also conducted interviews with officials from launch
companies, launch customers, and industry associations, and experts.

We selected launch companies, insurance companies, brokerage
companies, and launch customers for interviews that had conducted or
participated in commercial launches in the past 5 years. In addition, we
selected launch companies that are competing to conduct commercial
launches as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program or
plan to conduct launches for space tourism. We also selected launch
customers to include U.S. companies and foreign companies and those
that had used both U.S. and foreign launch companies. We selected
experts to interview to provide a variety of expertise, including space
liability, risk modeling, and space law issues. Table 1 lists the
organizations and agencies whose officials we interviewed as well as the
experts we interviewed.

Table 1: Organizations and Agencies Interviewed

Category                            Organization or agency
Brokerage company                   AON
                                    Marsh USA
                                    Willis Inspace
                     a
Insurance company                   Chartis Europe Limited
                                    Global Aerospace
                                    Starr Aviation
                                    XL Insurance
Launch company                      The Boeing Company
                                    Orbital Sciences Corporation
                                    Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems
                                    Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX)
                 a
Launch customer                     Digital Globe
                                    GeoEye
Risk modeling company               AIR Worldwide
                                    Risk Management Solutions
Industry association                The American Academy of Actuaries
                                                                    b
                                    Aerospace Industries Association
                                    Satellite Industry Association




Page 26                                                                 GAO-12-767T
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




    Category                              Organization or agency
    Federal agency                        FAA
                                          NASA
    Expert                                Henry R. Hertzfeld, Research Professor, Elliott
                                          School of International Affairs, Space Policy
                                          Institute and Adjunct Professor of Law, The
                                          George Washington University
                                          Howard Kunreuther, James G. Dinan Professor of
                                          Decision Sciences & Public Policy, Co-Director
                                          Risk Management and Decision Processes
                                          Center, Wharton School, University of
                                          Pennsylvania
                                          Rosanna Sattler, Partner, Posternak, Blankstein,
                                          and Lund LLP
Source: GAO.
a
 An additional insurance company and launch customer were interviewed but did not wish to be
identified.
b
 The Aerospace Industries Association convened a panel that included the launch companies
Lockheed Martin, Virgin Galactic, and ATK.


We conducted this performance audit from November 2011 to June 2012
in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
conclusions based on our audit objectives.




Page 27                                                                             GAO-12-767T
Appendix II: GAO Contacts and Staff
                  Appendix II: GAO Contacts and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  Alicia Puente Cackley, (202) 512-8678 or cackleya@gao.gov
GAO Contacts
                  In addition to the contacts named above, individuals making key
Staff             contributions to this testimony include Dr. Gerald L. Dillingham (Director),
Acknowledgments   Teresa Spisak and Patrick Ward (Assistant Directors), Maureen Luna-
                  Long, James Geibel, Carol Henn, David Hooper, Shelby Oakley, Susan
                  Offutt, Amy Rosewarne, Steve Ruszczyk, Melvin Thomas, and Frank
                  Todisco.




(540235)
                  Page 28                                                           GAO-12-767T
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                      Washington, DC 20548




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