Space Frontier Legislation Gains Traction as it Passes Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

Aug 10, 2018

In keeping with the administration’s renewed pledge to strengthen its space program, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation recently passed a new bill to streamline and clarify the role relevant government agencies would play in achieving this goal. The Space Frontier Act (S. 3277), introduced to the Senate last month,lays out the new roles and expectations for agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration for working with the private sector. The bill also authorizes the extension of the International Space Station to 2030.

Earlier this year, President Trump signed the Space Policy Directive 2: Streamlining Regulations on Commercial Use of Space (SPD 2), which shares many similarities with the House’s American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act (H.R. 2809) which was recently passed by the House. However, there is a key difference between the House and Senate space bill in the authorization of “non-traditional” commercial space activities such as satellite servicing, asteroid mining and commercial lunar landings. Under the Senate bill, this activity would be authorized by the Department of Transportation, overseen by a political appointee in the Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

Conversely, both the House bill and the Administration’s SPD 2 want these activities to be overseen by the Department of Commerce. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has proposed combining the Office of Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs and Office of Space Commerce to create the Space Policy Advancing Commercial Enterprise (SPACE) Administration to hold oversight.

The Space Frontier Act will next go to the full Senate for a vote. If it passes the Senate, it will proceed to the House to vote before heading to the President to be signed into law.

To view the current text of S. 3277- The Space Frontier Act if 2018, click here: https://tinyurl.com/y7kz5nbn

To view the text of H.R. 2809- The American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act, click here: https://tinyurl.com/yav68q3

To view the full text of SPD 2, click here: https://tinyurl.com/yauqt9q9