Washington D.C. – Tonight the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bi-partisan American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017 (H.R. 2809 as amended), one of the most visionary pieces of space policy legislation since President Reagan signed the original Commercial Space Launch Act in 1984.
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation applauds House Science, Space & Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson, Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin, Ranking Member Ami Bera, Congressmen Kilmer and Perlmutter, and also the bill’s co-author and original co-sponsor, former Oklahoma Congressman and newly-sworn-in NASA Administrator James Bridenstine, for their hard work in getting this bill to the House floor. We also appreciate the continuing leadership that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have shown in their support for America’s commercial space industry. Finally, we appreciate the efforts of Chairman Mac Thornberry of the House Armed Services and Chairman Bud Shuster of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committees in helping this bill come to a vote today.
H.R. 2809 makes three vital changes to the legal underpinnings of U.S. commercial space activity. First, it elevates the Office of Space Commerce from NOAA to the Office of the Secretary, makes its Director an Assistant Secretary, and authorizes its funding. Second, it completely rewrites the law that guides the Commerce Department in regulating the rapidly-growing U.S. commercial remote sensing industry to advance both U.S. economic leadership and important national security and foreign policy interests, and gives that job to this Office. Last but most importantly, it tasks the Office with creating a presumed-approval regime for non-traditional space activities, with only the necessary powers to ensure these activities’ compliance with international obligations of the United States under United Nations space treaties.
“By passing HR 2809, the House of Representatives helped open the space frontier to American free enterprise,” said Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “We look forward to seeing the Senate’s companion legislation, and to supporting both Chambers reach agreement on these important issues during this Congress.”