Washington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation lauds the passage of H.R. 4310 today, the National Defense Authorization Act, with Rep. Adam Smith’s amendment providing authority to the President to remove some satellites and related components and technology from the U.S. Munitions List, but calls for further progress regarding spaceflight participant training and the appropriate regulatory position for manned space vehicles.
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation also thanks amendment sponsors Rep. Adam Smith, Rep. Buck McKeon, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Howard Berman, Rep. Rick Larsen, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Rep. Rob Bishop and Rep. Earl Blumenauer for their leadership on this issue. For many years, the export of non-military satellites and space vehicles has been regulated by the Department of State, due to the presence of these items on the US Munitions List. For more than a dozen years, the President has been barred from removing any item of this class from the US Munitions List, so that it could be regulated instead by the Commerce Control List of the Department of Commerce, even though many of these technologies are available around the world and are routinely approved for export by the State Department.
The Smith Amendment implements some of the findings of the “Final Section 1248” report released late last month by the Department of Defense. The report concluded that keeping many space-related items on the munitions list would put the United States at a disadvantage in the global marketplace. Specifically the report stated, “Applying more stringent export control policies and practices than are imposed by other advanced satellite-exporting countries places the U.S. satellite industry at a distinct, competitive disadvantage that undermines the U.S. space industrial base to the detriment of U.S. national security, while doing nothing to protect the technological advances that are critical to giving our war fighters the advantages that U.S. technology can afford them.”
The report concluded that the decision-making power to remove items from the space portion of the US Munitions List should be transferred back to the Executive branch. The Smith amendment provides the authority for the President to remove many of the items mentioned in the “Final Section 1248” report. However, the amendment is somewhat unclear on whether the commercial spaceflight participant experience and training are among the items the President has the authority to remove. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation will continue to work with the House and Senate to make that authority perfectly clear.
In addition, the “Final Section 1248” report recommends keeping all man-rated spacecraft, including manned suborbital spacecraft, on the US Munitions List. Because of the growing civilian commercial uses for these vehicles CSF will continue to work to improve the regulatory treatment of manned vehicles, without compromising national security in any way.
CSF Executive Director Alex Saltman said, “This amendment is an important step toward reforming our export controls, which should be written to promote national security, but currently harm it. A one-size-fits-all approach to satellite and space technology is the wrong one. We look forward to working with the House and Senate to clarify that the spaceflight participant experience should not be regulated through the U.S. Munitions List.”
“We also support the removal of manned suborbital spacecraft from the U.S. Munitions List, as these vehicles now have countless civilian uses, and the eventual removal of all civilian spacecraft. The Commerce Control List is the appropriate place to regulate these vehicles, as it has successfully regulated many dual-use technologies with predominantly civilian uses in the past. We look forward to working with the Administration and Members of Congress to modernize the US Munitions List so that it effectively protects our national security without impeding the growth of American industries and jobs.”
About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Executive Director Alex Saltman at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 202.349.1121.
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