A coalition of space policy organizations and aerospace companies today urged the Congress to pass the Commercial Space Act of 2003 (HR 3245) in an expeditious manner. This bill, introduced in the House by a bipartisan group, will clarify and streamline a muddled and uncertain regulatory regime faced by the emerging American suborbital space flight industry.
"The suborbital launch industry offers tremendous promise," said Brian Chase, Executive Director of the National Space Society. "The tourism component alone could be worth billions of dollars per year, and has the real potential to jump-start our stagnant aerospace sector. The United States has the opportunity to be the leader in this exciting market, but without steps like this legislation we may see it move to other countries."
The bill, introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Ralph Hall (D-TX) and Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), directs the Secretary of Transportation to set up an enabling regulatory regime for commercial human space flight, separate from that under which the FAA governs commercial aviation.
Most important, the bill confirms the FAA 'd5s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) as the sole authority to license suborbital launch vehicles, and provides clear guidance that its primary mission is to aid this new industry with reasonable regulation that will help develop suborbital vehicles and companies. This will end the confusion within FAA about which bureau has jurisdiction over these vehicles.
"The most effective way to make suborbital flight safe is to allow innovative ideas," said XCOR Aerospace CEO Jeff Greason. "By resolving regulatory uncertainty, this bill creates an environment that will attract investment to an industry that has the potential to produce quality, high-paying jobs."
"This legislation protects the safety of the general public while allowing entrepreneurs and adventure travelers to pursue their dream of participating in human spaceflight, " said James Muncy of PoliSpace, a space policy consultant working for several suborbital RLV-interested companies.
The coalition is made up of major space policy organizations, aerospace companies and consultants. They are joined by Mr. Dennis Tito, the first private citizen to pay his own way into space. Their joint aim is to assist the suborbital industry in its development and to assure American leadership in this important emerging industry.