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JEAN FULLER: McCarthy’s Space Act continues ‘final frontier’

Dec 14, 2015
In The News

“Space, the final frontier ... To boldly go where no man has gone before.”

That famous quote from the “Star Trek” series of the 1960s rings true today as America continues to explore space and the possibilities offered by this new “frontier.”

Those possibilities, and the jobs they create for our region, were enhanced recently when Congress unanimously passed H.R. 2262, otherwise known as the “Space Act.” This important piece of legislation will provide opportunities for private businesses and entrepreneurs looking to advance space exploration.

The Space Act was authored by my friend and our neighbor, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He pointed out that passage of the Space Act will, “ensure the men and women in Mojave and east Kern County can continue to lead our journey into the final frontier.”

Supported by every aerospace leader in the area including the Mojave Air and Space Port, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, XCOR Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, The SpaceShipCompany, SpaceX, Masten Space Systems, and the Satellite Industry Association, this legislation will extend the International Space Station for four years, until at least 2024. The bill also secures a level playing field for U.S. commercial space enterprises.

The significance of the aerospace industry to California’s economy cannot be overstated. Aerospace employs more than 200,000 Californians in high-paying jobs and supports more than 500,000 jobs in related fields. Not only does the aerospace industry create meaningful opportunities for California families, these jobs help fund public priorities – like education and law enforcement – to the tune of nearly $3 billion annually through income tax revenue contributions.

According to Stuart Witt, Chief Executive Officer of the Mojave Air and Space Port, H.R. 2262 brings long-awaited legislative stability to the aerospace industry. Witt believes this measure demonstrates that the full Congress finally understands the importance of an extended regulatory “learning period,” during which the Federal Aviation Administration will not be allowed to issue new mandates. Like Witt, I have confidence that the Space Act will provide the industry with crucial guidance as we move into the future of aerospace.

Majority Leader McCarthy and I will continue to fight for jobs in the aerospace industry at both the state and federal levels. In the California Legislature, I founded and chair the California Aviation Caucus, with an eye towards aerospace and its infinite potential for the Mojave region. Through this Caucus, I hope to advance public awareness about the importance of the aviation and aerospace industries and develop legislation that promotes educational and training opportunities for Californians seeking to pursue work in this exciting career sector.

The Space Act now awaits the President’s signature. I’m hopeful he will recognize that protecting the ability of private business to advance space exploration will not only allow for the expansion of future space discovery, but will protect and grow job opportunities here in the United States.

The passage of Majority Leader McCarthy’s Space Act, along with my committed efforts in the California Legislature, will ensure that California’s commercial space industry continues to grow and thrive.

Sen. Jean Fuller is the California Senate Republican Leader and represents the 16th District.