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House Science Committee Hearing on Commercial Space Development

House Science Committee Hearing on Commercial Space Development

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee recently held a hearing with stakeholder perspectives about the state of the U.S. commercial space industry and to provide considerations for prospective commercial space legislation. As the commercial space industry has expanded significantly in recent years, Congress has enacted several pieces of space legislation to promote commercial space activities while upholding the international obligations of the United States. This legislation granted the Executive Branch regulatory authority over certain space activities, but also charged agencies with the dual mandate of both encouraging the private sector and protecting the public and the national interest of the United States.

New commercial space technologies present new issues for the government to consider when addressing space operations. One such issue is the government’s approach towards commercial human spaceflight activities, including issues like space launch, re-entry, and operation of spaceports. Since 1989, the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) has licensed over 560 launches and 38 reentries, more than 40% of which took place between FY2018 and FY2022. There have been over 80 licensed launches in the first nine months of FY2023, a number that already exceeds the total number of licensed launches in FY2022, bringing commercial space issues to the forefront of the current FAA and NASA reauthorization debates within Congress. AST expects these numbers will continue to grow rapidly, projecting an annual rate of between 123-288 licensed launches and reentries by FY2027.

To view an archived webcast and testimony of the hearing, visit here.

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