Senate Passes Space Commercialization Act

Capitol Building
WASHINGTON (US Commercial Committee PR) –
U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-Mich.) issued the following statements on the passage of H.R. 2262, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, a bicameral, bipartisan bill that encourages competitiveness, reflects the needs of a modern-day U.S. commercial space industry, and guarantees operation of the International Space Station until at least 2024. The bill builds on key elements in S. 1297 that the Commerce Committee approved earlier this year and passed the Senate on August 4, 2015.

“Today, the Senate passed a bill with far-reaching implications for the future of space exploration and the U.S. space industry,” said Chairman Thune. “I appreciate the efforts of my Senate colleagues, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith who, among other congressional space policy leaders, were critical to building consensus around the bill that passed today.”

“This will help bolster an already thriving U.S. commercial space industry, especially in Florida where we are seeing an amazing transformation of the Kennedy Space Center into a bustling space port,” said Ranking Member Nelson, who sponsored the original Commercial Space Launch Act over thirty years ago. “It also paves the way for NASA to begin launching astronauts to the International Space Station on American-made commercial rockets while providing jobs for the economy.”

“This law makes a commitment to supporting the continued development of a strong commercial space sector and recognizes the major stake Texas has in space exploration,” said Subcommittee Chairman Cruz. “It also provides NASA and the International Space Station with nearly a decade of mission certainty by extending the operation and utilization of the International Space Station until 2024.  Most importantly, it solidifies America’s leading role in the  commercial space sector and builds upon the work of President Reagan. ”

“The researchers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers that make up our commercial space industry are driving innovation that helps grow our economy and furthers NASA’s research and human exploration priorities in space,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Peters. “I am pleased that we were able to come together with our colleagues in the House to craft a final bipartisan bill that promotes new research, creates jobs and encourages the next major advancements in space exploration.”

The Senate-passed substitute amendment to H.R. 2262 renames the measure as the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act and merges agreed upon provisions based on the previously passed bills in the Senate and House. The amendment was sponsored by U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R- Texas), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The bill now heads back to the House for final approval.

Key provisions include the following:

Extends the Operation of the International Space Station
Provides a four-year extension of the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2024 by directing the NASA Administrator to take all necessary steps to ensure the ISS remains a viable and productive facility capable of utilization including for scientific research and commercial applications.

Ensures Stability for Continued Development and Growth of the Commercial Space Sector
Provides an extension of the regulatory learning period through September 30, 2023 so that the commercial space sector can continue to mature and innovate before the Department of Transportation transitions to a regulatory approach. The current learning period expires on March 31, 2016.

Extends Indemnification for Commercial Launches
Extends through September 30, 2025 a key risk sharing provision in current law critical to keeping a level playing field in the global market for U.S. commercial space enterprises.

Identifies Appropriate Oversight for the Commercial Development of Space
Directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in consultation with the Department of Transportation, Secretary of State, NASA and other relevant Federal agencies, to assess and recommend approaches for oversight of commercial non-governmental activities conducted in space that would prioritize safety, utilize existing authorities, minimize burdens on industry, promote the U.S. commercial space sector, and meet U.S. obligations under international treaties.

Space Resource Exploration and Utilization (Asteroid Mining)
Establishes a legal right to resources a U.S. citizen may recover in space consistent with current law and international obligations of the United States. Directs the President to facilitate and promote the space resource exploration and recovery.

Updates Space Launch System
Provides a use policy for NASA’s heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System.

  • redneck

    My apologies. I thought you were advocating for SOS/Olien subsidies. I’m glad you said an architecture that can work which means we agree on commercial being the way forward.

  • ‘Humanity in the heavens’, it’s all noodley ‘goodness’ to you.

    Let me clue you in. We ARE in the heavens, whatever that is. Just the second you want to acknowledge that and start acting like that just let me know. I might be able to help you with that.

    I don’t believe in ‘space exploration’ anymore at all. Not in the least, certainly not with humans, but no longer even with robotic missions. We’ve got far more problems here in our little corner of the ‘heavens’ where the minor incremental advancement in understanding of ice moons and solar system planets and bodies is going to help us here, and in fact our understanding of terrestrial planet functioning is advance enough and our computational and theoretical abilities are sophisticated enough that we no longer even need more information on extrasolar planet to act on the information that we have at our disposal.

    It would be great if you could like, think these things through. It is the RESPONSIBILITY of governments to act responsibly for its citizens. SLS and Orion are irresponsible. That’s the problem.

  • Joe

    It is better to use said SSMEs instead of letting 16 of them just sit on the ground. The SSME’s are reliable and very useful rocket engines. We would the use of them without SLS.

  • So you say. A responsible government and a responsible federal scientific research and technology development doesn’t willfully destroy billions of dollars of legacy development away for a couple of joyrides into space.

    Ergo – NASA and our government and the idiots that support them are not responsible. That’s you. Irresponsible ignorant subservient schmuck. Too timid and stupid to do the right thing.

  • Joe

    You don’t make any sense. Without SLS the SSMEs would not have been used again at all. The remaining 16 would have sat on the ground for the rest of time. How is that less wasteful than using them one last time?

    For the new SSMEs NASA is planning on simplifying the manufacturing process given that the SSMEs aren’t being reused anymore. They will cost less than regular SSMEs.

    I will not stoop to your level by responding with name calling.

  • So you say. The ugly truth of the matter is that you, NASA, congress and the executive office were too stupid and too lazy to design a reusable launch vehicle around the SSME when you had the chance, and now you don’t have that chance anymore since you blew your wad on Constellation – SLS and Orion.

    It doesn’t matter how cheap you make the SSME, when you are tossing the entire first stage of a heavy lift launch vehicle into the ocean after almost but not quite reaching low earth orbit you are doing something dramatically, no, INSANELY wrong. And I’m calling you on that – an idiot. Insanely retarded idiots. And what’s worse, indeed offensive is people like Wayne Hale calling federal employees of a federal scientific institution – a family.

    NASA is a family like the mafia is one big family. Sure.

    Only an insane idiot would continue to do something like that. Only an insane idiot would consider or even think of doing something like that, let alone blowing 50 billion dollars of taxpayer money doing so for a couple of government employee taxpayer paid joyrides into deep space. I have no problems calling you names, because youare an anonymous internet commenter. I can name the names. Let’s just start with Lamar Smith and Donna Edwards, the most insane of the large group of insane corrupt morons running this NASA United States freak show. And then there is you, Joe, the American schmuck.

    Eating it up like the crap that it is. Drink more NASA koolaide, Joe, because the gravy train is going to end really soon now, and very dramatically. It’s going to be great fun watching it burn in the light of reusable methane engines and reusable launchers.

    Do you want me to names the names here? This is not a NASA problem anymore, this a personal problem with individuals that I don’t have any problems about naming.

    So what is it, Joe? Should I name the guilty persons here?

  • Joe

    This will be my last response. It is clear that you in no way want to have a constructive discussion. Your name calling and rude behavior are a disgrace to those on every side of the space exploration spectrum. You can never hope to convince someone that your point of view is correct by calling them idiots or worse.

    Finally if you are so convinced that private space (and only private space, no government money) can handle every single aspect of space exploration why are you so incensed about NASA? They aren’t getting in anybody’s way. In fact they are helping commercial space. You don’t need to eliminate NASA to prove private space is superior. It can be proved or disproved on the field.

  • Blowing $50 billion dollars over 15 years on an insanely stupid expendable heavy life launch vehicle and gold plated capsule that has yet to fly, has no missions or mission planning, and can’t even carry out the mission it was claimed that it was needed for in the first place is the big disgrace here, Joe.

    NASA needs to be eliminated. Soon. It’s a total failure.

    Shut it down and make ‘the family’ get real jobs and force them to quit extorting money from taxpayers to pursue their fantasies that don’t have a chance in hell in competing with reality.

    I will be as vocal and persuasive is it takes to do that. It won’t be a polite discussion because I’m never polite with the insane.

    You’re insane, Joe. And unfortunately you’re in good company.

    A new democratic administration, Joe. Be very afraid.