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After Accidents, Space Industry Braces for More Oversight

Executives in the fledgling commercial U.S. space industry are bracing for increased scrutiny and oversight after two accidents last week, including one that killed a pilot, but say they view the mishaps as temporary setbacks that will not halt launches. Mark Sirangelo, who leads Sierra Nevada Corp.'s space division, told industry executives he expected the industry to learn from the accidents and urged a measured response by lawmakers.

Sirangelo noted there have been 454 failures out of a total 5,332 launches since the 1950s, and failure rates have remained steady at 7 to 9 percent since the 1970s. "Launch failures and issues are part of what we do," Sirangelo said Thursday during an event hosted by the Washington Space Business Roundtable. "We're going to learn from it and get better." Last week's Antares rocket explosion and SpaceShipTwo breakup have raised questions about the commercial space industry, and will probably trigger congressional hearings, experts said. But they said budget pressures left NASA little choice but to proceed with commercial approaches to ferrying cargo and crew to the International Space Station.

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— Reuters