Status Report

Chairwoman Horn’s Opening Statement for Overview of Commercial Space Industry Hearing

By SpaceRef Editor
July 25, 2019
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Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics is holding a hearing titled, “The Commercial Space Landscape: Innovation, Market, and Policy.”


Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, Rep. Kendra Horn’s (D-OK), opening statement for the record is below.


Good afternoon, and welcome to today’s hearing on “The Commercial Space Landscape: Innovation, Market, and Policy.” I especially want to welcome our distinguished witnesses. Thank you for being here.


From the Apollo program and the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 that we just celebrated, to the Viking landers on Mars, the Landsat Earth observing satellites, and the Hubble Space Telescope, the private space sector has been a trusted partner in America’s civil space program. While the Federal Government has taken the lead in R&D investments, design, development, testing, and construction of infrastructure and facilities, it has looked to the aerospace industry and its skilled workforce to implement Government mission requirements and build many of the spacecraft, instruments, vehicles, satellites, and systems that the Government has launched into space. This partnership has worked well, and the nation’s successes in civil space owe much to the partnership between the Government and industry. 


Through these government investments, demonstrated capabilities have led to flourishing segments of the commercial space industry. Today the global space economy, including government space budgets, is estimated to be around $350-400 billion. Sectors within that global economy, such as satellite television, satellite manufacturing, and ground equipment and devices—like the chips in our smartphone that enable navigation—produce annual revenues in the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars.


Congress and government policies, as well, have supported the development of a commercial space industry by setting frameworks for regulating segments of the industry. This Committee’s Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 laid the initial regulatory framework to enable the emergence of a commercial space launch industry, for example. Other legislation provided a pathway for commercial remote sensing licensing.  


Today, the commercial space industry is evolving. With these changes have come innovative technologies and operations and potential new services and capabilities that are infusing energy into the commercial space industry. Private investors, venture capital, and other forms of investment are also expressing interest in the industry. According to one source, total investment in start-up space companies was at a record $3.2 billion in 2018, up from about $2.5 billion in 2017. We’re on the precipice of what could be a ground-breaking shift in the technologies and services that affect our daily lives whether through new broadband communications services or information products derived from Earth remote sensing imagery.


I’m excited about the future of commercial space, and I want the United States commercial space industry to succeed and to lead. To ensure continued success, it’s important that we, as the Subcommittee with jurisdiction over commercial space, have a clear view of where the industry is headed; the opportunities and challenges facing it; where and how the government intersects with commercial space; and what questions need to be answered as we carry out oversight of the government as a user and enabler of commercial space activities.


So before we delve into any one issue, activity, or segment of the industry, we’re starting with an overview of commercial space. In short, today’s hearing is intended to be a commercial space 101 that will guide us in prioritizing the key issues and areas to examine as we look forward to subsequent hearings on commercial space during the 116th Congress. We’ve included a variety of voices on the panel, including those representing the breadth and diversity of the industry, and I look forward to their input today.


Thank you.  

SpaceRef staff editor.