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Congressman Jim Bridenstine Releases Major Space Policy Legislation

Posted by on April 12, 2016 | comments
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Today, Congressman Jim Bridenstine (OK-1) released the American Space Renaissance Act, groundbreaking legislation intended to permanently secure the United States as the world’s preeminent space-faring nation.  The comprehensive and bold reform bill covers national security, civil, and commercial space policies and programs.

Congressman Bridenstine said, “Space is critical to the American way of life.  Space-based technologies have transformed the way we communicate, navigate, conduct financial transactions, and fight wars.  In particular, people in my home state of Oklahoma need satellites to forecast severe weather like tornados, improve farming and oil and gas operations, and organize disaster relief.

“America has long dominated the ‘ultimate high ground’ of space.  However, space is becoming more congested, contested, and competitive.  Even so, private companies are developing revolutionary technologies – from reusable rockets to asteroid mining and human space habitats.  The American Space Renaissance Act makes comprehensive and bold policy advances and reforms necessary to ensure American leadership in space.”

The American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA) is organized as three titles:

Title I: National Security

Success on today’s battlefield depends on space-based capabilities from GPS, to weather, to imagery, to missile warning and communications.  Current Department of Defense (DOD) space systems are too vulnerable, expensive, and walled-off from each other.  ASRA provisions ensure the next generation will be more resilient, cheaper, and integrated. 

  • Requires military to use “hosted payloads” more frequently.  Hosted payloads are “ride sharing” arrangements whereby military systems are integrated into commercial satellites.
  • Starts a DOD pilot program to buy “venture class” launch services.  Venture class rockets launch small satellites faster and cheaper than traditional rockets. 
  • Starts a DOD pilot program to buy commercial weather data and services from the private sector. 

Title II: Civil

NASA is an exceptional and inspirational agency, but today it lacks a clear purpose.  Over the past two decades, NASA has cancelled 27 programs costing taxpayers billions of dollars.  Years of drift have left America relying on Russia to get our astronauts to space.  ASRA refocuses NASA’s energy on pioneering space to retire risk and commercialize programs.

  1. Provides a fixed term for the Administrator, as well as greater flexibility to deploy funds where most critical to provide NASA programs with certainty and stability.  Accountability provisions are also included.
  2. Deems Mars as NASA’s main human spaceflight priority, and requires plans and budgets consistent with that priority.
  3. Continues and expands NASA support for commercializing low earth orbit endeavors, including the creation of a pilot program for commercial habitats.

Title III: Commercial

The role of government in space has been to pioneer developments where cost and risks are too uncertain or too high for private industry to tackle.  As technologies mature and industry steps in with private capital formation, the government role should shift to facilitating private solutions and ensuring a transparent and light-touch regulatory environment.  It is practical and expedient for the government to increasingly buy data and services from commercial space companies.

  • Enhances regulatory certainty by adequately funding the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation and clarifying the legal framework for certain non-traditional activities like commercial habitats, resource extraction, and on-orbit servicing.
  • Builds a civilian and commercial capacity to provide robust space situational awareness, moving toward granting authority for space traffic management, in order to preserve access to the space environment.
  • Limits dependence on Russia by supporting a robust commercial domestic launch industry through a tax credit to incentivize payloads launched on American rockets.

More information is available on the website http://www.SpaceRenaissanceAct.com.

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