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Commercial Space Act Introduced

June 06, 1997

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis) has introduced the Commercial Space Act of 1997 (H.R. 1702) to encourage the development of a commercial space industry in the United States.

The bill has five major components. First, it will direct NASA to determine the feasibility for commercial tenants on the International Space Station. Second, it amends the Commercial Space Launch Act to enable the Office of Commercial Space Transportation to license reentry activities for the industrial sector.

Third, the bill supports the President's policy to make the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) the international standard. It is recognized that the commercial market opportunities for GPS are extensive, and that the economic interests of the U.S. would best be served if the current U.S. GPS system became the world standard. Fourth, language is included that streamlines the process for obtaining a license to operate a commercial remote sensing satellite. Finally, the legislation requires the federal government to procure space transportation services from U.S. commercial providers to the maximum extent possible.

In his remarks to the House, Sensenbrenner stated that the commercial space industry generated $7.5 billion in revenue in 1995, and, according to a RAND Corp. study, the market for GPS goods and services alone could reach $8.47 billion by the year 2000.

H.R. 1702 is co-sponsored by the ranking members of the House Science Committee and Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. The sponsor's intent is to move the bill through the House before the July 4 recess. This rapid time schedule will enable the Senate to have time to consider the legislation. A similar bill (H.R. 3936) was passed by the House at the end of the last Congressional term, but was not considered by the Senate before the session ended.