House leans to less regulation of commercial space


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During a hearing on March 8 of the House subcommittee on space the representatives overall pushed for less regulation of commercial space activities.

The overall problem was once again dealing with the Outer Space Treaty:

At a March 8 hearing of the subcommittee, members and witnesses grappled with the issue of how the government should oversee emerging commercial space activities in order to comply with obligations to the Outer Space Treaty, including whether such oversight is, in fact, required. Such “authorization and continuing supervision,” as specified in Article 6 of the treaty, is handled today by various agencies for commercial communications and remote sensing satellites and for launch. It’s less clear who would regulate new activities, ranging from commercial lunar landers to satellite servicing efforts, creating uncertainty in industry about who, if anyone, could provide that authorization and continuing supervision.

An April 2016 report delivered to Congress by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, required by Section 108 of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015, recommended what it called a “mission authorization” approach for providing that oversight. This approach would be modeled on the payload reviews performed by the Federal Aviation Administration during the launch licensing process, including an interagency review of proposed missions. While the mission authorization concept had won support from many in industry, as well as the FAA and some members of Congress, a change of administrations and its approach to regulation has emboldened some who want to limit industry regulation.

“Unfortunately, the Obama administration issued a report last year that called for expansive regulations over all types of private space activities,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science Committee, at the hearing. He cited a “crisis of overregulation” in general as a reason to oppose the previous administration’s proposal.

The House members and the witnesses apparently rejected the regulatory proposals that had been put forth by the Obama administration, and were instead searching for ways to limit the amount of regulation required under the Outer Space Treaty.

I say, dump the treaty. Nothing in it helps the development of space by private individuals or companies. Everything in it encourages bureaucracy and the limitation of private property.

One comment

  • LocalFluff

    Yeah, just terminate the “Outer Space Treaty”. The US should on their own dictate what law applies to spaceflight. And at first occasion demonstrate that no one wants to mess with that. Compromising with dictators here and there doesn’t improve anything (other than the flow of foreign bribes to politicians and their special interests). There’s no truth and no efficiency in the OST. Just ignore it.

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