The Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) was established in 1984 (Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984, as amended and re-codified at 51 U.S.C. 50901 – 50923) as part of the Office of the Secretary of Transportation within the Department of Transportation (DOT). In November 1995, Commercial Space Transportation was transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the FAA's only space-related line of business. Commercial Space Transportation was established to:
- Regulate the U.S. commercial space transportation industry, to ensure compliance with international obligations of the United States, and to protect the public health and safety, safety of property, and national security and foreign policy interests of the United States;
- Encourage, facilitate, and promote commercial space launches and reentries by the private sector;
- Recommend appropriate changes in Federal statutes, treaties, regulations, policies, plans, and procedures; and
- Facilitate the strengthening and expansion of the United States space transportation infrastructure.