House Science Committee Approves Commerce Department Space Measures

Capitol Building
Although members of the House Science Committee clashed on asteroid mining and FAA regulating on Wednesday, they did manage to approve two commercial measures with bi-partisan support.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), the Commercial Remote Sensing Act would require the Commerce Department to produce annual reports on actions taken relating to remote sensing. The information would include lists of applicants, applications approved and denied, and related data.

The department also would be required to submit a report to Congress on any “statutory updates necessary to protect national security, protect the United States industrial base, and reflect the current state of the art of remote sensing systems, instruments, or technologies.”

The committee approved an amendment proposed by Alan Grayson (D-FL) to add “protect privacy” to the information required in the report on statutory updates.

Bridenstine said he is concerned the Commerce Department is missing 120-day deadlines for granting or denying remote sensing applications.  He wants to see if any regulatory changes are required to streamline the review process.

Committee members also approved the Office of Space Commerce Act, which would rename the Department of Commerce’s Office of Space Commercialization to the Office of Space Commerce. The bill by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) also would add the following responsibilities to the office’s mandate:

“(1) foster the conditions for the economic growth and technological advancement of the United States space commerce industry;

‘‘(2) coordinate space commerce policy issues and actions within the Department of Commerce;

‘‘(3) represent the Department of Commerce in the development of United States policies and in negotiations with foreign countries to promote United States space commerce;

“(4) promote the advancement of United States geospatial technologies related to space commerce, in cooperation with relevant interagency working groups; and

“(5) provide support to Federal Government organizations working on Space-Based Positioning Navigation, and Timing policy, including the National Coordination Office for Space-Based Position, Navigation, and Timing.’’

The two measures will now go to the full House for votes.