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Space Commercialization Act Introduced

September 13, 1996

The Space Commercialization Promotion Act of 1996 (H.R. 3639) was introduced in the House last month. Rep. Robert Walker (R-PA), Chair of the House Science Committee, has maintained efforts over the last six years to pass this legislation. Walker says the legislation seeks to advance U.S. national space goals and encourage the private sector to participate in many space-related efforts now carried out by the U.S. government.

Major Provisions in H.R. 3936:

The NASA Administrator would be directed to prepare a market study that would:

-examine the role commercial ventures may play in supplying, using, servicing or augmenting the International Space Station; review specific policies and initiative underway at NASA to encourage such commercial opportunities; and, consider the cost of savings that might be realized by the international partnership from applying commercial approaches to cost-shared operations and by the U.S. government from cost reimbursements by commercial users.

  • NASA would be required, to the maximum extent possible, to acquire earth remote sensing data, services, distribution and applications, where cost effective, from the U.S. private sector to meet Mission to Planet Earth goals.
  • The government would be required to procure launch service from U.S. commercial providers, and to the maximum practicable extent, plan missions to accommodate the space transportation capabilities of U.S. commercial providers.

Walker contends that by bringing private revenues into commercial space development, the availability of goods and services for government space missions will increase and lower the cost of conducting federal, civil and military space programs.

In addition, the emerging commercial remote sensing industry could help lower the cost of some NASA missions by selling data directly to the government, instead of the government investing large amounts in developing, building, and operating satellites. This concept would allow the government to focus resources on acquiring the data that the private sector cannot provide.

A section-by-section analysis and other information regarding H.R. 3936 are available on the Science Committee's World Wide Web site which can be located at the following address: http://www.house.gov/science/ welcome.htm. For further information please contact the Committee on Science information hotline at 202/ 225-3018.