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America has been at the forefront of space travel since the first man stepped on the moon. Americans have never been afraid to tackle a challenge, no matter how many millions of miles away. Our district bore witness to incredible achievements in flight including Captain Charles Yeager breaking of the sound barrier. Today, the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center celebrates one of the first pioneers of space travel and is a symbol to the next generation of space explorers of what lies beyond the stars.

Our space entrepreneurs need an environment that promotes development in this burgeoning industry. They should be focused on the important technical aspects of getting into space, not government regulations telling them what they can and cannot do. The SPACE Act of 2015 (H.R. 2262) will make it easier for these pioneers to test and develop the next generation of spacecraft that will take us to Mars and beyond. Kern County is uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of space exploration and this bill ensures that we will continue to lead the way.

Highlights of the SPACE Act:

  • Commercial Human Spaceflight Innovation: This act extends the FAA learning period to 2023 to allow private spaceflights and innovation so real-world data can be obtained to inform possible future FAA safety regulations, while preserving the FAA’s ability to protect public health and safety, and requires a progress report on the status of the knowledge the industry and FAA have gained over this time period.  The legislation also calls for the development of industry consensus standards and best practices in the interim and to coordinate those efforts with the FAA.  This will reduce regulatory uncertainty, thereby allowing the industry to grow without the threat of arbitrary regulations impacting its ability to innovate.
  • International Launch Competitiveness:  This act extends the indemnification period for U.S. commercial spaceflight operators through 2023, which is currently set to expire in 2016, and requires FAA to update how it calculates the maximum probable loss associated with launches.  Indemnification is an important tool to help protect the uninvolved public in the event of an accident while promoting commercial space development.  Indemnification has never been utilized and is subject to future appropriations.  This provision will help create a stable environment in the U.S. to grow commercial space launches rather than launches moving overseas where other nations have more favorable liability protections.
  • Launch License Flexibility: This act fixes a technical issue in current law to allow vehicle manufacturers to use individual vehicles as test platforms with experimental permits while other individual vehicles are being used in commercial service under launch licenses. Current law requires all vehicles of the same design either to be used for one purpose or the other.

Congressman McCarthy delievers floor speech on the SPACE Act of 2015