Asteroid mining and commercial space companies have found an ally in Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The presidential hopeful authored the original version, along with amendment, of the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, which the House of Representatives passed Monday. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law this week. The act stalls regulatory oversight for the commercial space industry while increasing the rights for asteroid mining companies.
The U.S. Senate passed a version of the bill last week. The Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 (SPACE Act of 2015) addressed the regulation of the commercial space industry, asteroid mining and the continuation of the International Space Station.
"This week, the United States Congress carried President Reagan’s torch forward by passing this legislation. Commercial space exploration presents important new opportunities for us all. Our nation must continue to provide a framework in which the American people can innovate and create private commercial, scientific, and cultural enterprises that can extend our reach throughout the cosmos," Cruz said in a statement. The Texas Senator serves as the chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Space, and Competitiveness, which oversees NASA.
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The first section of the SPACE Act of 2015 focuses on the safety regulations of the commercial space industry. The Department of Transportation will provide progress reports on standards or best practices that may have developed in the industry. The bill gives the young space industry a "learning period" of at least 8 years, beginning Oct. 1, 2023, before any recommendations for regulation by the Federal Aviation Administration in regards to crew safety.
The FAA currently provides licenses for launches outside of Department of Defense facilities and for vehicle reentry.
Asteroid mining companies now have the right to any resource they procure from space. The Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015 only provides resource, not property rights, for space resources. "We applaud the members of Congress who have led this effort and look forward to President Obama signing the bill into law," Peter Marquez, vice president of Global Engagement, Planetary Resources, Inc., said in a statement.
The SPACE Act of 2015 officially extends the International Space Station to 2024. "This new legislation sets the stage for the continued growth and expansion of the space transportation industry, while enabling rapid advances in safety for spaceflight participants," the Commercial Spaceflight Federation said in a statement.