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Government steps up to regulate final frontier

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WASHINGTON — It’s a story almost as old as humanity: Braving unknown dangers, a team of explorers settles a wild frontier, and then — almost as quickly — bureaucrats tie it up with red tape.

This time, the frontier is outer space. And the regulators are from the Federal Aviation Administration, which licenses commercial-rocket launches in addition to monitoring the airlines.

The FAA has so far been constrained by one major loophole: Once a spacecraft reaches orbit, it’s largely free…

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