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Commerce Committee Approves Rubio Commercial Space Industry Bill To Encourage Innovation

Apr 9, 2014 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today approved S. 2140, legislation which would fix outdated laws to allow for more advancement in the commercial spaceflight industry. The legislation, introduced by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Tom Udall (D-NM) last month, changes current laws that are slowing development and progress for the reusable launch vehicle industry to ensure space companies can continue to test and innovate their vehicles. 

The bill would allow a commercial space launch company to take a licensed vehicle out of commercial service and use it as an experimental platform for safety and performance improvements when needed, and allow one or more vehicles of the same design to be used for test flights under a permit, while other vehicles of the same design are used in commercial operations under a license.

“Today’s vote reaffirms that encouraging innovation is key to America achieving its potential in the 21st century,” said Senator Rubio. “Innovative industries like commercial spaceflight are advancing rapidly, and we can’t allow outdated laws to stifle progress. Unfortunately that’s exactly what’s happening.

“These laws did not anticipate what commercial companies are now doing with vehicle testing and commercial spaceflights, and therefore have caused progress to slow,” added Rubio. “That’s why we need this bill to help update and streamline federal laws so they are more in line with today’s commercial spaceflight operations and can allow for this cutting edge industry to thrive. Removing outdated, burdensome federal laws will not only allow for further advancement in commercial spaceflights, but also encourage more innovation, job creation, and economic growth.”

“This legislation addresses a technical issue that will help the commercial spaceflight industry develop and deploy reusable space vehicles quickly and safely,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. “We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Rubio in sponsoring this important bill.”

A PDF of the legislation is available here.