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McCarthy Bill for Space Ports PASSES House

Sep 22, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Kevin McCarthy spoke on the House floor in favor of H.R. 6007, legislation he sponsored to promote commercial spaceflight. 

The House passed this bill unanimously (425-0) last night.

Full remarks are below or watch online here.

“I thank the speaker.

“The exploration of space has long united this country. Every American—rich or poor, living in cities or in the great rural areas that make up our country—can look to the moon knowing that American astronauts planted our flag there. Every time we look up into space, we have something to be proud of. But we know our journey has only just begun.

“Mr. Speaker, not too long ago commercial spaceflight was disregarded as some distant pipedream of the future. But today, thanks to innovation in places like Mojave, California, commercial spaceflight and the spaceports they take off from are at the epicenter of space exploration. 

“These are the places leading in our journey to the great unknown. But as commercial space has ventured into the future, government policy has not kept up. We need to ensure government allows commercial spaceflight to succeed by updating laws to reflect changing circumstances. 

“Similar to airports, for our spaceports to function we need to prioritize safety and minimize the risk of structures interfering with the flight path of spacecraft on launch or reentry. The legislation I introduced that we are voting on today gives the FAA the authority they now lack to examine whether structures being built near spaceports will obstruct spaceflight.

“With this, those leading our journey into space can remain confident that nothing back on earth will be slowing them down.

“I yield back.”

 

BACKGROUND:

Issue Overview:

 

Most space ports are located at existing airports, such as Mojave Air and Space Port, which is classified as a “ General Aviation” airport. 

 

Because of this, the FAA is limited to the metrics prescribed for studying potential structural obstructions to general aviation airports and aircraft, and is unable to take into account the unique trajectories of suborbital vehicles. 

 

 

What this legislation does:

 

H.R. 6007 would give the Secretary of Transportation the authority to conduct aeronautical studies at spaceports, allowing the FAA to study the potential impact of structures on spacecraft arriving or departing from a licensed launch site.

 

Additionally, the bill requires rulemaking to implement this requirement within 18 months of enactment.

 

Support:

“Mojave Air and Space Port is pleased to see another positive step forward in protecting the operational investment by so many, government and private sector alike.” -Karina Drees, CEO Mojave Air and Space Port 

“Once again, Majority Leader McCarthy has shown that he is committed to helping keep Mojave at the forefront of commercial spaceflight.  This bill will help ensure that spaceports like ours are able to operate without fear of encroachment.” - George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company

“The Commercial Spaceflight Federation endorses H.R. 6007. Your legislation provides regulatory clarification important to the future of the commercial space industry in the United States. We encourage the House and Senate to act quickly on this bipartisan, bicameral bill. Gliding spacecraft and large transport category aircraft require protection from obstacles (e.g., power lines, wind turbines, or cell towers) in close proximity to runways. While current law is well-defined for airports, it does not effectively encompass spaceports. This legislation provides a standard, effective obstruction evaluation framework for spaceports. With only a short time left in the 114th Congress, we support quick action in the House to approve your legislation and provide sufficient time for Senate consideration and presidential approval. Thank you for your leadership on this important issue.” Eric W. Stallmer, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Issues: