Science and Exploration

Congressman Kevin McCarthy Introduces Bill to Streamline Commercial Spaceflight Regulations

By Marc Boucher
August 5, 2013
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Congressman Kevin McCarthy Introduces Bill to Streamline Commercial Spaceflight Regulations
File photo: Artists concept Orbital Antares launch.

Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R) has introduced H.R. 3038, the Suborbital and Orbital Advancement and Regulatory Streamlining (SOARS) Act, intended to streamline the regulatory process associated with commercial spaceflight.
The bill was referred to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee where it may get full support from the Republicans on the committee but likely no support from the Democrats.

Co-sponsoring the bill is Congressman Bill Posey (R) of Florida, who is a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

Congressman McCarthy issued the following statement:

“Today I introduced legislation to help ensure that the commercial spaceflight industry has a clear path ahead as it continues to innovate and generate high-quality American manufacturing jobs. I have seen firsthand how the talented people of East Kern County have grown this industry through technological advancement, and this legislation will help ensure they are not hindered in creating jobs here locally.”

Congressman Posey issued the following statement:

“A new generation of American space entrepreneurs are eager to provide services to NASA and meet other new demands for space exploration. Unfortunately, bureaucratic barriers are hindering the development of a robust commercial program in the United States which is critical to maintaining our leadership in space and our national security. Our bill is a big step in streamlining FAA regulations and establishes demonstration projects for space companies supporting launch activities to safely move forward. I am very pleased to work with Whip McCarthy on this common sense legislation which will update our laws and regulations so America can capture this market.”

Support of the legislation from the commercial sector includes the Mojave Air and Space Port, Stratolaunch Systems and Virgin Galactic.

“It’s encouraging to see our country’s leaders pave the way for private spaceflight efforts to succeed. Legislation like this will keep cutting-edge projects moving forward and help our country remain at the forefront of space exploration,” said Paul Allen of Stratolaunch Systems.

Stu Witt, CEO of the Mojave Air and Space Port said “The time has come for leadership which allows for the adult conversation on technical legislation matters which frame innovative job creation in America. Shying away from this subject only delays what is required. I applaud Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Posey for taking a stand and enabling the FAA, Congress, space flight innovators, spaceports and interested affiliates to engage in crafting a regulatory regime which promotes the long term interest of the new space industry while ensuring an appropriate level of operational safety.”

According to Congressman McCarthy:

– The bill ensures that innovative launch and reentry vehicles have a “one-stop shop” for regulatory oversight, instead of dealing with two or more separate sets of regulatory requirements.

– The bill fixes a technical issue with current law to allow vehicle manufacturers to use individual vehicles as test platforms while other individual vehicles are being used in commercial service. Current law requires all vehicles of the same design either to be used for one purpose or the other.

– The bill creates a demonstration project to evaluate the benefits of using experimental aircraft to support launch and reentry activities.

– These provisions promote safety and innovation by unifying regulatory oversight, allowing companies to test safety improvements rapidly, and providing opportunities to develop new approaches to supporting launch and reentry activities.

SpaceRef co-founder, entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, nature lover and deep thinker.