Lucas and Babin Introduce Legislation to Modernize Commercial Space Sector 

Nov 02, 2023
Press

Washington, D.C. – This week, House Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-TX) introduced legislation to promote and strengthen the commercial space sector and enable the continuation of U.S. leadership in space activities. 

H.R. 6131, the Commercial Space Act of 2023, updates and modernizes the government oversight of commercial space activities. As this sector has been rapidly growing thanks to transformative innovation and significant investments in public-private partnerships, this legislation reduces regulatory red tape, promotes safety standards, and encourages technological advancements. Maintaining U.S. leadership in international space policy is critical to our economic and national security, and this bill ensures we lead the way setting norms and standards that reflect our American values of fairness and transparency.

“The country that leads the way in space exploration sets the standards for how we operate there,” Chairman Babin said. “To continue strengthening American leadership in space, we must modernize our commercial space framework. The Commercial Space Act will do just that by addressing outdated laws, enhancing innovation, and ensuring our partners are not stymied by regulatory hurdles. The U.S. cannot afford to surrender ground in space by failing to act, which is why the passage of this bill is vital.”

“I’m proud to introduce this critical piece of legislation, which continues our role as the global leader in space,” Chairman Lucas said. “This bill crafts a favorable and competitive environment right here at home by streamlining our regulatory process and clarifying federal roles in licensing commercial space activities. This will attract the best and brightest in the field and encourage the growth of innovation, ensuring America remains at the forefront of this thriving sector.” 

Key highlights of the Commercial Space Act of 2023: 

  • Creates a certification process for nongovernmental space activities, reducing administrative burden and ensuring compliance with international treaty obligations. 
  • Clarifies regulatory authority by designating the Office of Space Commerce as the single authority responsible for the certification process.
  • Elevates the Office of Space Commerce as its own entity within the Department of Commerce.
  • Addresses the issue of orbital debris by requiring commercial space operators to provide a plan on how they will mitigate space debris as part of their application and promoting research and development at NASA on how to improve U.S. space situational awareness activities.
  • Encourages commercial space innovation and establishes a Private Space Activity Advisory Committee to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of the sector and identify gaps for improvement.
  • Extends the learning period for commercial human spaceflight activities to ensure continued growth in the sector.

View the full text here

View the Executive SummarySection-by-Section, and Fact Sheet.

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