House Passes Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act

Lamar Smith

The House passed a measure on Tuesday designed to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for commercial space companies.

The American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017 invests oversight authority in the Department of Commerce’s Office of Space Commerce.

A key element of the bill is the reform and simplification of the regulatory process that covers remote sensing. The measure requires the office to approve or reject an application for a space object to launch.

“The bill establishes a favorable legal and policy environment for free enterprise with maximum certainty and minimum burden for stakeholders,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who introduced the legislation and chairs the House Science Committee. “With this innovative legislation, we position the American space industry as a leader.

“New space operators would now be incentivized to set up shop on American ground and allow the United States to maintain and adhere to our international obligations as well as improving our national security,” Smith added. “This enterprising bill provides an efficient, transparent, and streamlined structure for authorizing and supervising future space activities to create the path for future exploration of the final frontier.”

The bill creates a Private Space Activity Advisory Committee to analyze the effectiveness of the the office’s operations, identify problems, and provide recommendations to the Commerce Department and Congress on policies and practices.

Space companies and industry groups praised the act in a press release issued on Tuesday.

“The member companies and institutions of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation are in strong agreement with all of the goals and most of the key elements of your legislation: significant reform of the Commerce Department’s obsolete, burdensome, and dysfunctional regime for licensing commercial remote sensing satellites is especially welcome,” said federation president Eric Stallmer.

Future Looks (Mostly) Bright for Space Industry in DC


The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference is being held in Colorado through today. I wasn’t able to attend this year, but the following folks are there tweeting away:

  • Jeff Foust‏ @jeff_foust
  • Rand Simberg‏ @Rand_Simberg
  • Colorado Space News‏ @CO_Space_News
  • Laura Seward Forczyk @LauraForczyk

Below are updates based upon their tweets on what is happening in Washington, DC, from talks by officials from the FAA, NASA, and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
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The Federation Adds New Members

CSF_logo2WASHINGTON, DC (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation continues to grow its membership, announcing today the addition of new associate members — DigitalGlobe and NanoRacks.

DigitalGlobe is a leading global provider of high-resolution Earth-imagery products and services sourced from its own advanced satellite constellation and third-party providers.

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Praise for NASA’s Commercial Cargo Contract Awards

CSF_logo2Commercial Spaceflight Federation

NASA announced three cargo contract awards to ensure robust and affordable transportation of critical supplies, scientific experiments and commercial payloads to and from the International Space Station (ISS) through at least 2024. NASA selected Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and SpaceX to continue and expand upon its successful public-private partnerships with American companies to obtain reliable cargo resupply services for the ISS.

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The Federation Urges Congress to Quickly Pass Commercial Space Act

CSF_logo2CSF President Eric Stallmer released the following statement calling on Congress to quickly pass H.R. 2262, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act:

“CSF applauds the House and Senate negotiators for the tremendous work and effort they put into crafting the bipartisan, bicameral U.S Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (H.R. 2262). When the CSLA was updated 11 years ago, Congress codified a regulatory regime that led to an unparalleled level of investment, innovation, and economic growth in the commercial space industry. This new legislation sets the stage for the continued growth and expansion of this industry, while enabling rapid advances in safety.  It incentivizes further investments in innovation and the development of spaceflight capabilities that will benefit all Americans.  For these reasons, and many more, CSF calls on Congress to quickly pass H.R. 2262, the bipartisan bill that will ensure that America remains the leader in space.”

CSF: SpaceShipTwo Provides Valuable Lessons Learned

The spot where SpaceShipTwo's cockpit crashed. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
The spot where SpaceShipTwo’s cockpit crashed. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

WASHINGTON, DC (CSF PR) — Today the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a public hearing to adjudicate the probable cause of last year’s SpaceShipTwo test flight accident, which resulted in an in-flight breakup. NTSB’s investigators and analysts presented their findings, conclusions, and recommendations in a draft report to the NTSB Board members. Throughout the discussion, NTSB staff and Board members praised the industry’s strong commitment to transparency and cooperation during the investigation, which helped lead to a more timely and complete resolution of the accident investigation.

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ESA, CSF Weigh in on Failed Falcon 9 launch

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain

Hearing the news of today’s loss of SpaceX CRS-7 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain stated: “We at the European Space Agency deeply regret this failure that shows that sending launchers into space is a very hard job. However a failure does not undermine all the previous successes. We wish our colleagues on the other side of the ocean all our best in fixing the problem and getting back into flight again soon”.

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CSF, Space Florida Praise ULA/Blue Origin Engine Venture

csf_logo_newestThe Commercial Spaceflight Federation Applauds  Blue Origin/ULA Engine Development Partnership

Washington D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation congratulates Blue Origin on their partnership with United Launch Alliance to jointly fund the development of their new BE-4 rocket engine. The agreement includes a four-year development process with full scale testing in 2016 and first flight in 2019.

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