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Statement by Rep. Kevin McCarthy on H.R. 3038, Suborbital and Orbital Advancement and Regulatory Streamlining (SOARS) Act

Status Report From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2013

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Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this important hearing today and for allowing me the opportunity to testify in support of commercial space and the Suborbital and Orbital Advancement and Regulatory Streamlining (SOARS) Act. I want to also thank Congressman Posey for working with me to introduce this important legislation and for his support for commercial space.

America is built on a strong heritage of exploration, discovery, and innovation. From President Thomas Jefferson's commissioning of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the American west, to the Transcontinental Railroad linking east and west together, to the public- private partnership that helped the airline industry grow to become a safe mode of travel all over the world, to the internet, which has generated as much economic growth in 15 years as the Industrial Revolution did in 50.

Space, like the internet before the ".com" boom of the 1990's, was originally a government run enterprise. Many believe that the commercial spaceflight is poised to have its own ".com" moment in the near future. NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo program alone has already created thousands of high-quality jobs here in America--including many at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, which I represent. My district is also home to the Mojave Air and Space Port where many commercial spaceflight companies have located to research, develop, and test their hardware that will soon take Americans back to space. This is why I support the commercial spaceflight industry - the creation of thousands of good paying jobs on U.S. soil and the continuation of America's legacy in space exploration and innovative technologies.

Think about this: Over the last 50 years, about 500 humans have been to space. With the burgeoning commercial space market, that number could double over the next 10 years with the government only serving as a customer. The next U.S. astronauts to fly to space on American rockets will do so because of this new model.

The use of innovative public-private partnerships offers the government new ways of solving problems. A study shows these partnerships benefit the taxpayer, by providing space services at nearly one-tenth the cost of traditional contracting methods; getting results for less money; and catalyzing innovation, growth, and risk-sharing in the private sector. As NASA leads continued exploration missions and related technology development, entrepreneurs will follow, spending their own money and creating new industries.However, it is up to us as legislators to ensure our current regulatory environment is appropriate for the needs of the 21st Century and to make sure safety is paramount in the commercial spaceflight industry's endeavors.

This is why I introduced H.R. 3038 to ensure that the U.S. commercial spaceflight industry has a clear path ahead as it continues to innovate and generate high-quality American manufacturing jobs. A robust commercial space industry will also help attract students to the STEM fields of education by inspiring the next generation to literally reach for the stars. The goal of this bill is to streamline the regulatory process for commercial spacecraft, ensuring that America remains a leader in commercial spaceflight, while providing the Secretary of Transportation the necessary tools to help the industry operate safely.

The commercial spaceflight industry is one of our newest, fastest-growing, and most innovative industries, and I am proud that Dryden Flight Research Center and the Mojave Air and Space Port are leading the way. And if we take the right steps, we won't just be launching rockets, we will be launching new careers, new industries, and new economic opportunities. Whenever I visit these facilities, I am awestruck by the technology the companies are developing there, and the incredible men and women who make it all possible, especially Mojave's executive director, Stu Witt, who is also testifying today.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for allowing me to testify today. I yield back my time.

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