The Commercial Space Act for 1997 (H.R. 1702) was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives late last night.
Congratulations and thanks to all the NSS space supporters and members who worked earlier this year to encourage their representatives to support the bill. Congratulations also to the staffers at the House Science Committee Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics who worked hard to move this through, including Eric Sterner and Jim Muncy.
This is a victory, but a partial one. There still remains the Senate, where a companion bill to H.R. 1702 has yet to be introduced and, at this point, will most likely not be introduced until next year. According to staffers for Senator Bob Graham (R-FL), a draft of a companion bill is still in the works, however, we have learned that this may not be the only version that is proposed. More on that to come.
These words from a press release issued by the House Science Committee early this morning: "We are transforming the way this country deals with commercial space issues," House Science Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. said. "Passage and eventual enactment of H.R. 1702 will provide an environment which will allow the U.S. commercial space industry to flourish."
"This legislation will help America win the new, commercial 'space race'," stated Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). "Today the House of Representatives did its job. Now the American people need to contact their Senators and the White House to ensure its enactment into law early next year."
The Commercial Space Act of 1997 streamlines regulations and promotes a stable business environment for the commercial space industry. The bill includes the following provisions: (1) directs NASA to study commercial possibilities for the International Space Station; (2) amends the Commercial Space Launch Act to license commercial space transportation vehicles to reenter Earth's atmosphere and return space payloads to Earth; (3) encourages policies to secure the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) as the world's standard; (4) streamlines the licensing process for remote sensing satellites; and, (5) requires the government, in most cases, to procure domestic commercial space transportation services for U.S. government payloads.
H.R. 1702 was introduced on May 22, 1997 by Chairman Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Ranking Democrat George E. Brown, Jr. (D-CA), Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Ranking Democrat Robert Cramer (D-AL), and Science Committee member Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX). Other Science Committee co-sponsors include: George Nethercutt (R-WA), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Dave Weldon (R-FL), Chris Cannon (R-UT), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Ralph Hall (D-TX), Mark Foley (R-FL), Michael Doyle (D-PA), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), and Kevin Brady (R-TX).
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The National Space Society is an independent space advocacy group headquartered in Washington, DC. Its 25,000 members and 95 chapters support the creation of a spacefaring civilization. For more information on the NSS and our future in space, visit http://www.nss.org/.