Posted by John McHaleWASHINGTON, 2 Oct. 2010. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a new grant program designed to fund projects that develop and expand commercial space transportation infrastructure. The Space Transportation Infrastructure Matching Grants will be awarded to four separate projects located in Alaska, California, Florida, and New Mexico.In June of this year the Obama administration unveiled a new National Space Policy that recognizes opportunities and advancements in commercial space capabilities. The 2010 policy lays out more specific ways for the government to make use of commercial capabilities.The FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation will administer the new Space Transportation Infrastructure Matching Grants. The first matching grants include: $43,000 for the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to provide an Automated Weather Observing System; $227,195 to the Alaska Aerospace Corp. for a Rocket Motor Storage Facility; $125,000 to the East Kern Airport District in Mojave, Calif., for an emergency response vehicle; and, $104,805 to the Jacksonville Airport Authority in Florida to develop a Spaceport Master Plan for Cecil Field. Under the law, the FAA can provide matching funds for specific projects being carried out by public entities involved in commercial space activities.The U.S. 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, 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 Obama administration is committed to making sure the United States remains the world leader in space development and exploration," says FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "This new grant program underscores that commitment, and will help ensure that the commercial space industry can meet our current and future space transportation needs."For more information on FAA's commercial space transportation activities a fact sheet is available at: http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=11559.