Subcommittee Considers Updates to Commercial Space Launch Act

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Washington, D.C. - The Space Subcommittee today held a hearing to examine various changes that have taken place within the commercial space launch industry and to discuss potential updates to the Commercial Space Launch Act (CSLA). The industry has grown substantially since the passage of the law back in 1984.  The CLSA provides a framework for the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) regulatory authority to license launches and indemnify launch providers from third-party claims, should an accident ever occur. 

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): "Americans' record of ingenuity is filled with examples of entrepreneurs who pushed the boundaries of the possible.  The commercial space industry relies on this same creative spirit. Three decades ago, Congress and President Reagan worked together to pass the Commercial Space Launch Act.  This legislation paved the way for American entrepreneurs to reach for the stars. There are several provisions of the law that need to be updated.  As the industry continues to evolve, so must the laws that govern it."

Future growth in the U.S. commercial space sector is highly dependent on the federal government providing an efficient and flexible legal and regulatory framework. As the industry has evolved over the years, the CLSA has been amended several times. Witnesses today discussed the federal government's proper role in regulating the commercial space sector.

Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.): "In his 1984 State of the Union speech, President Reagan reminded us that our progress in space 'is a tribute to American teamwork and excellence.' He challenged our best and brightest to develop launch companies ready to loft payloads to orbit regularly with minimal government interference. Shortly after his speech, Congress responded with passage of the Commercial Space Launch Act.

"As we once more consider changes to this ground-breaking legislation, President Reagan's words ring just as true for us today as they did three decades ago.  We must continue providing a framework for supporting the development of commercial space launch. As the commercial space industry evolves, so too should our laws and federal regulations.  While there are many issues we will address in the next CSLA, it is my desire that we give special focus to issues surrounding launch indemnification and the regulatory learning period.""

The following witnesses testified today before the Subcommittee: 

Dr. George Nield - Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration

Dr. Alicia Cackley - Director of Financial Markets and Community Investment Team, Government Accountability Office

Dr. Henry Hertzfeld - Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs, Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University

For additional information on today's hearing, including witness testimony, please visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.

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