President Obama is expected soon to sign into law the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, following passage of the most recent version of the legislation by the U.S. House.
The Senate unanimously approved the space legislation Nov. 10, and the House did the same Nov. 16. Key provisions include extending U.S. participation in the multinational International Space Station until 2024.
The House approved a previous version of the bill in May, but that had to be reconciled with a similar but distinct Senate bill.
The now-passed legislation — sometimes referred to in shorthand as the 2015 Space Act — also would extend through 2023 a moratorium on new regulations affecting commercial space enterprise and extend through September 2025 indemnification provisions covering commercial launch contractors.
“Today America stands at the beginning of a new era of innovation and adventure,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “Scientists, engineers, astronauts and entrepreneurs are working to embark on the next phase of our journey into space.”
The legislation covers even emerging deep-space missions such as the mining of asteroids for precious metals, and a couple of companies active in that segment were quick to sing its praises.
“Commercial space exploration presents important new opportunities for us all,” said bill co-sponsor Ted Cruz, R-Texas. “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.”