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IT advancements have often been driven by the needs of the space program. In the 1960s and 1970s, NASA sparked the trend for small, light systems. Now commercial requirements have overtaken and nearly eliminated circuitry built only for government use.

Like the chips and boards business, the space launch business has migrated out of the federal arena. The federal government still operates five spaceports, but state authorities teamed with private industry run another four launch sites.

Thirteen other state and private spaceports are on the drawing boards of the spaceflight industry. The Federal Aviation Administration maintains a Web site about commercial launches, at ast.faa.gov/aboutCST. The agency regulates the nonfederal spaceflight industry, licensing spaceports and launches. License and registration, Buck Rogers.

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