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Smith Introduces American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, June 7, 2017

U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today introduced H.R. 2809, the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017. This bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas), Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.), and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.).
 
Chairman Smith: "This transformative legislation declares that America is open for business in outer space. The American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act addresses issues that the committee has been tracking for years, including international obligations and commercial remote sensing. The bill establishes a favorable legal and policy environment for free enterprise with maximum certainty and minimum burden for stakeholders. With this innovative legislation, we position the American space industry as a leader.  New space operators would now be incentivized to set up shop on American ground and allow the United States to maintain and adhere to our international obligations as well as improving our national security. This enterprising bill provides an efficient, transparent, and streamlined structure for authorizing and supervising future space activities to create the path for future exploration of the final frontier."
 
Space Subcommittee Chairman Babin: "I am very proud of the work that has been done so far on the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act. I believe strongly that this bill will provide American companies with the certainty that they need to operate in space. I appreciate the hard work of my colleagues Chairman Lamar Smith and Rep. Jim Bridenstine on this very important bill to ensure the space industry remains strong in America for years to come."
 
Rep. Bridenstine: "Providing maximum certainty with minimal regulatory burden for the commercial space industry has been one of my top priorities in Congress.  The American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act moves us in the right direction.  Years of uncertainty over which government agency has the responsibility to authorize and supervise commercial space activity has created a chilling effect in the industry, hindering capital formation and innovation.  Chairman Smith, Chairman Babin, and I authored this bill to provide a clear, transparent process to meet Outer Space Treaty obligations while ensuring America is open for business in space."
 
Background
 
The American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017 simplifies and strengthens the outdated space-based remote sensing regulatory system. At the same time, this bill enhances U.S. compliance with international obligations, improves national security and removes regulatory barriers facing new and innovative space companies.
 
This bill will:
- Create a single authority for U.S. authorization and supervision of nongovernmental space activities located at the Department of Commerce Office of Space Commerce
- Establish a transparent certification process in the least burdensome manner possible
- Provide greater certainty to assure nongovernmental space activities conform to the United States' Outer Space Treaty obligations
- Address concerns that certified activities may pose a safety risk to existing federal government space systems
- Reform the space-based remote sensing regulatory process
- Preserve ability to condition remote sensing operations to protect national security
- Enhance national security by ensuring insight into operations and capabilities by creating a competitive environment that discourages offshoring 
 
The text of the bill can be found here.

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