May 13, 2015

McCarthy Introduces Legislation to Ensure American Leadership in Space

Washington, DC – Congressman Kevin McCarthy today introduced the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act. The bill will facilitate a pro-growth environment for the developing commercial space industry by encouraging private sector investment, creating more stable and predictable regulatory conditions, and improving safety. Congressman McCarthy released the following statement on the SPACE Act:

“The American spirit is, by its very nature, a pioneering one. From the development of the west to being the first to put a man on the moon, no frontier has been too intimidating for American ingenuity. In today’s quest for understanding the final frontier, the commercial spaceflight industry is helping to lead the way. This legislation ensures that commercial spaceflight can continue to innovate, all the while generating high-quality American manufacturing jobs and leading the world into the next generation of spaceflight. Since I first came to Congress, I have watched the innovative minds in eastern Kern County grow this industry from the ground up by making investments in the future. Without this legislation, the industry may face myriad regulatory hurdles that threaten to stymie American exceptionalism in space exploration. Commercial space represents all that is great with America and I am proud to introduce legislation to strengthen it.”

Highlights of the SPACE Act:

  • Commercial Human Spaceflight Innovation: This act extends the FAA learning period to 2023 to allow private spaceflights and innovation so real-world data can be obtained to inform possible future FAA safety regulations, while preserving the FAA’s ability to protect public health and safety, and requires a progress report on the status of the knowledge the industry and FAA have gained over this time period.  The legislation also calls for the development of industry consensus standards and best practices in the interim and to coordinate those efforts with the FAA.  This will reduce regulatory uncertainty, thereby allowing the industry to grow without the threat of arbitrary regulations impacting its ability to innovate.
  • International Launch Competitiveness:  This act extends the indemnification period for U.S. commercial spaceflight operators through 2023, which is currently set to expire in 2016, and requires FAA to update how it calculates the maximum probable loss associated with launches.  Indemnification is an important tool to help protect the uninvolved public in the event of an accident while promoting commercial space development.  Indemnification has never been utilized and is subject to future appropriations.  This provision will help create a stable environment in the U.S. to grow commercial space launches rather than launches moving overseas where other nations have more favorable liability protections.
  • Launch License Flexibility: This act fixes a technical issue in current law to allow vehicle manufacturers to use individual vehicles as test platforms with experimental permits while other individual vehicles are being used in commercial service under launch licenses. Current law requires all vehicles of the same design either to be used for one purpose or the other.

What leaders in the commercial space industry are saying in support of the legislation:

“Over the past few weeks the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have taken up the business of extending certain policy initiatives to promote American interests in Space.   What is at the core is our return to a national position of Space Exploration Leadership.  The Mojave Air and Space Port applauds Congressman McCarthy in introducing the SPACE Act, as well as Chairman Smith, Chairman Palazzo, Ranking Member Edwards, Mr. Knight, Mr. Posey,  Mr. Takano, Mr. Rohrabacher and Mr. Bridenstine for continuing to lead us toward a day when the “Learning Period” will be a life long journey and not just a finite period of time.  We look forward to House consideration of this important legislation  which strengthens the notion of industry-wide lesson sharing. –  Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stuart O. Witt

“The commercial spaceflight industry has a tremendous champion in Majority Leader McCarthy, who has always understood the value of the innovation that takes place here in Mojave.  We commend his leadership in working with Chairmen Smith and Palazzo to introduce the SPACE Act, which will help our growing industry take its next bold steps into space.” – Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides

“The Commercial Spaceflight Federation applauds Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the House Science Committee for introducing legislation that prioritizes U.S. innovation and economic competitiveness. The Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 recognizes the need to continue to strengthen the Commercial Space Launch Act to enable the continued growth of the commercial space economic sector. We look forward to seeing the prompt passage of this bill by the Committee, and subsequently, the full House.” – Eric Stallmer, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

“A little over a decade ago Congress passed the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act to enable the commercial human spaceflight industry. Today, my congressman, Kevin McCarthy has introduced a comprehensive and visionary  update of that law to help spur this industry to grow even faster, from its early roots in the Antelope Valley all the way to the Space Coast of Florida.  The American people should be proud that Congress is acting to help make this exciting future happen.”Jeff Greason, Founder of XCOR Aerospace