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Senate Passes U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act

Legislation encourages development of the commercial space sector in Texas and across the country

November 12, 2015

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (H.R. 2262), a bicameral, bipartisan bill that recognizes the need for development of the commercial space industry and the major role space exploration plays in Texas. Sen. Cruz (R-Texas) led the effort in the Senate to consolidate Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) SPACE Act passed in the House with the Cruz-Nelson-Peters U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (S. 1297) to produce this legislation aimed at strengthening and enhancing President Reagan’s vision of what commercial space could become. The bill is now headed to the House for consideration. 

Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) joined Sen. Cruz as sponsors of the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. The measure extends the prohibition of federal regulations on the commercial space industry for seven and a half years, the longest such extension in history, establishes property rights beyond Earth and throughout the cosmos, which will help a burgeoning industry in which a single asteroid could net trillions of dollars in platinum, and defines the term “government astronaut” in statute to protect government astronauts under the licensing structure for launch vehicles.

Additionally, this bill extends the operation and utilization of the International Space Station (ISS) to 2024, which will provide mission certainty for Houston’s Johnson Space Center.

“This legislation makes a commitment to supporting the continued development of a strong commercial space sector and recognizes the major stake Texas has in space exploration,” Sen. Cruz said. “It also provides NASA and the International Space Station with nearly a decade of mission certainty by extending the operation and utilization of the International Space Station until 2024. Most importantly, it solidifies and builds upon President Reagan’s efforts to establish America’s leading role in the commercial space sector.”

Full text of the bill can be found here.

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