On November 10, 2015, the Senate passed H.R. 2262, the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA). The House responded on November 16, 2015 by passing the final version as well. NSS congratulates both the Senate and House leadership for their hard work in hammering out a compromise between the previously passed House and Senate versions. “The CSLCA is a large and important pro-space bill that contains some vitally important steps toward space development and settlement,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “NSS has been campaigning for the extension of the International Space Station, and NSS is delighted to see that the CSLCA formally extends the ISS to 2024.”
Other provisions in the CSLCA extend the so-called “learning period” for commercial human space flight by seven years, allowing the nascent space tourism industry to get a running start before full-on FAA regulations are put in place. Additionally, commercial space operators are allowed to both operate experimental and operational spacecraft at the same time, which was previously prohibited by law. “NSS has been working hard for both of these changes over the last year,” said Mark Hopkins, Chair of the NSS Executive Committee. “NSS believes that space tourism, including sub-orbital tourism, is one of the best routes to creating a low-cost road to the high frontier of space.”
The CSLCA calls for the establishment of a legal right for U.S. citizens to mine asteroids in a fashion consistent with international law, including the Outer Space Treaty. Milestone 18 of the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap calls for the exploration, utilization, and settlement of the asteroids (www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart6.html). “The establishment of the right to mine asteroids and profit from the results is an event of historic importance,” said Bruce Pittman, NSS Senior Vice President.
The CSLCA contains a large number of additional provisions, each important in some fashion to advancing the development of space resources. “Of particular interest are the provisions encouraging U.S. leadership in space commerce, including remote sensing,” said Stan Rosen, a member of the NSS Policy Committee. “When combined with initiatives related to space traffic management, orbital debris and others, they make the CSLCA the most important space legislation in many years.”
One hurdle remains for the CSLCA – signing by President Obama. “This legislation is critical for our future in space. NSS urges that the President sign the CSLCA,” said Dale Skran.