House Approves Space Technology and Commercial Space Bills


WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Today, the U.S House of Representatives approved two bipartisan space bills that promote the Nation’s leadership in rocket propulsion development and provide licenses for commercial space support vehicles and flights. These bills will ensure America remains a leader in space exploration and development.

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House Science Committee Approves Commercial Space Support Vehicle Act

The second SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by WhiteKnightTwo on its first captive carry flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

The House Science Committee has approved a bill that would allow Virgin Galactic and other companies to obtain FAA licenses and experimental permits to use space support vehicles for training and research.

“Companies would like to utilize space support vehicles to train crews and spaceflight participants by exposing them to the physiological effects encountered in spaceflight or conduct research in reduced gravity environments,” said Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who introduced the measure.

“This legislation creates a foundation for more companies to engage in human space flight activities and support commercial space operations. I would like to thank Rep. Al Lawson, Chairman Lamar Smith and Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin for their support of this important, bipartisan legislation,” Posey added.

Virgin Galactic would like to use the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft that launches SpaceShipTwo for training and research purposes. The legislation would also affect the Stratolaunch air-launch system and Starfighters Aerospace, which wants to train people in F-104 aircraft.

“The Commercial Space Support Vehicle Act provides the appropriate regulatory approach – by authorizing the secretary of transportation to develop the regulations by March 1, 2019, allowing licensed space support flights,” Posey said.

Posey Introduces Legislation to Allow Passengers on Experimental Aircraft

WhiteKnightTwo back safely on the runway after a successful SpaceShipTwo glide flight. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) has introduced legislation that would authorize experimental aircraft such as WhiteKnightTwo to carry spaceflight participants and crew for training and research purposes.

The measure, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), would enable Virgin Galactic and other operators to avoid the time consuming and expensive process of having their aircraft undergo FAA certification.

WhiteKnightTwo is the carrier aircraft for Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital space plane. The company wants to use the vehicle to train spaceflight participants and to conduct microgravity research.

In addition to WhiteKnightTwo, H.R.2571 could open the door for passengers to train aboard retired military jet fighters.

The legislation has been on the wish list of Virgin Galactic and the commercial spaceflight industry for a number of years.

Planetary Resources on Space Measure: We Like It!

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REDMOND, Wash. (Planetary Resources PR) — Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, praises the members of Congress who promoted historic legislation (H.R. 2262) that recognizes the right of U.S. citizens to own asteroid resources they obtain as property and encourages the commercial exploration and recovery of resources from asteroids, free from harmful interference.

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House Science Committee Gives Industry What It Wants

Capitol Building
The commercial space industry had a great day on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with the Republican-controlled House Science Committee giving it most of what it wanted while swatting away proposed changes from the minority Democrats.

Among the goodies approved by the committee: a decade-long extension of the moratorium on regulating commercial human spaceflight;  a nine-year extension of industry-government cost sharing for damages caused by launch accidents; and an act that would give companies property rights to materials they mine from asteroids.

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Sparks Fly in House Science Committee Over Asteroid Property Rights Bill

Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)
Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)

In a contentious hearing on Wednesday, the Republican controlled House Science Committee approved a measure that would give companies rights to materials they mine from asteroids over complaints from Democrats that the measure was unconstitutional and drawn up to benefit a single company.

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Posey Introduces Measure Calling for Return to Moon by 2023

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Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) has introduced a measure directing NASA to plan a return to the moon within eight years and the establishment of a permanent presences there.

“The National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall plan to return to the Moon by 2023 and develop a sustained human presence on the Moon, in order to promote exploration, commerce, science, and United States preeminence in space as a stepping stone for the future exploration of Mars and other destinations,” the measure reads. “The budget requests and expenditures of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall be consistent with achieving this goal.”

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Asteroid Property Rights Legislation Introduced in Congress

Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)
Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)

Legislation that would grant property rights to entities mining asteroids has been introduced in Congress.

“Any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto, consistent with applicable provisions of Federal law,” the measure states.

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ASTEROIDS Act Would Establish Space Property Rights

Schematic view of asteroid (25143) Itokawa. (Credit: ESO)
Schematic view of asteroid (25143) Itokawa. (Credit: ESO)

Proving that there is some vision in Congress after all, U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) have introduced introduced the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act of 2014, which “establishes and protects property rights for commercial space exploration and utilization of asteroid resources.”

Now, if they can only get a budget passed by the end of the fiscal year, Congress could demonstrate vision and basic competence at governance, something it hasn’t achieved in many years. (It’s looking like another continuing resolution for NASA.)

But, I digress.

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McCarthy and Virgin Galactic Hope Commercial Space Measure SOARS

Capitol Building
By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a move that would have a major impact on how Virgin Galactic and other space companies operate, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has introduced legislation that would simplify the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) permitting and licensing procedures for new commercial spacecraft.

The Suborbital and Orbital Advancement and Regulatory Streamlining Act (SOARS) also would broaden the definitions of launch vehicles and launch services to include the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft and spaceflight participant training conducted aboard it.

Another section of the measure would require the FAA to undertake a three-year demonstration project “to evaluate the benefits of using experimental aircraft for both the direct and indirect support of commercial space launch and reentry activities.”

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House Members Propose Radical NASA Overhaul


WASHINGTON, DC (Press Release) – Today, Reps. John Culberson (TX-07), Frank Wolf (VA-10), Bill Posey (FL-15), Pete Olson (TX-22), James Sensenbrenner (WI-05) and Lamar Smith (TX-21), introduced the Space Leadership Preservation Act, legislation that will change business as usual at NASA and result in a more stable and accountable space program. The bill would create a 10-year term for the NASA Administrator to provide crucial stability of the leadership structure at NASA so that decisions are made based on science and are removed from the politics of changing administrations.

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Congress Praises SpaceX Dragon Launch

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifts off with a Dragon spacecraft bound for the International Space Station. (Credit: SpaceX)

Following Alan Shepard’s flight aboard Freedom 7, there was a triumphant parade through Washington, D.C., to honor the first American in space. In one of the limousines sat NASA Administrator Jim Webb with Bob Gilruth, the man in charge of the Space Task Group that launched Shepard into space.

Gazing out at the adoring, cheering crowds that lined the parade route, Webb turned to Gilruth and said, “If it hadn’t worked, they’d be asking for your head.”

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the reaction to the SpaceX Dragon launch from Capitol Hill….

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House Passes Measure to Support DOD-Private Space Cooperation

Washington (Bill Posey PR) – Today the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill introduced by Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) as an Amendment to H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act, that enables the Department of Defense (DoD) to work with Space Florida and commercial companies to improve space launch infrastructure to better meet national security and commercial space launch needs.

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Posey Legislation Would Allow for Military-Private Space Partnerships

Washington, Apr 19 (Bill Posey PR) — Today, Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) introduced legislation to allow for private sector investment in the Department of Defense for space transportation in an effort to modernize America’s defense capabilities, promote America’s commercial space industry and help America regain the loss of commercial launches.

“A priority for me is working to secure America’s leadership in launch vehicles, technology and operations and this bill helps us do that,” said Congressman Bill Posey. “We have been losing launches to overseas competitors and that is not good for our economic competiveness or our national security. We need to change that direction and my bill will do that. This bill is a win-win.”

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Rep. Posey to Host Entrepreneur Summit in Brevard County

Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) will host another Entrepreneur Summit in Brevard County to continue efforts to bring together various entrepreneurs from across the 15th Congressional District to showcase their innovative technologies to the public and potential investors. The Entrepreneur Summit will take place in the Hartley Room at the Denius Student Center of the Florida Institute of Technology on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 from 8:00AM – 12Noon.

Companies interested in presenting must complete and submit an application no later than Monday, April 4, 2011, at 5:00 PM.

The May 17th summit is Posey’s third forum for local area entrepreneurs in Brevard County and his fourth entrepreneur summit overall. An Osceola Entrepreneur Summit is scheduled to be held on April 27th in Kissimmee.

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