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House committee delays vote on commercial space bill due to new White House proposal

Because of the sudden announcement by the White House of its own version of a new commercial regulatory space bill, the House Science committee was forced to delay the voting on November 15, 2023 of its own new commercial space bill, put forth by Republicans.

The committee met Nov. 15 to mark up the Commercial Space Act of 2023 and one other bill. At the end of the markup, lasting more than three and a half hours including a recess, the committee’s chairman, Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said the committee would delay votes to advance both bills until after the Thanksgiving break because of votes on the House floor and “and the nature of additional information that has become available to us.”

The latter comment appeared to be a reference to a legislative proposal released by the White House’s National Space Council less than an hour before the markup regarding a mission authorization concept for new space activities. That proposal would establish a system where both the Commerce Department and the Transportation Department would oversee activities not regulated today, based on the type of activity.

The House bill, introduced Nov. 2 by Lucas and space subcommittee chairman Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), would create its own mission authorization system at the Commerce Department. It would also direct Commerce to hand over responsibility for a civil space traffic coordination system to a consortium led by an academic or nonprofit organization, rather than keeping it within the Office of Space Commerce as currently planned. Lucas, in his opening remarks, said he was aware of the new White House proposal but has reservations about it. “These proposals, I fear, simply go in the wrong direction and hurt rather than support America’s space industry,” he said.

Both bills were aimed at realigning the regulatory regime governing private space activities. The House bill’s final form apparently had been written with a lot of industry input. The White House bill, supported by Democrats, appears designed instead to clamp down on commercial space by allowing the federal bureaucracy to regulate everything.

Both bills unfortunately give too much power to the federal government, though the Republican bill at least tries to shift some of that power to the private sector, where it belongs.

One of the main reasons we have had a rennaisance in commercial space in the past decade is that there has been little regulation. The private sector has been left to regulate itself, and it has generally done so very successfully because of the invisible hand of free market forces. Build things right and the world beats a path to your door. Do it badly and no regulation is needed, you go out of business.

Modern Americans no longer trust these fundamentals of freedom and capitalism, and so we have a rush by government to establish “rules,” none of which will really accomplish anything but slow development and innovation and squelch this emerging industry.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • I am glad that Representative Lucas sees big issues with the White House, Big Government ambiguous ideas. Even in Lucas’s bill, I see problems too. Academia to regulate space? Gimme a break! That would make the current FAA/FWS delays look like a walk in the park. They would have all of their Leftist Environmental, DIE and other cultic ideas injected into the process. Likewise, an industry based solution would disfavor new entries into the market. Old Aerospace hates SpaceX/Elon Musk for disrupting their cozy arrangement for launches. It would be comparable to some of the ideas floated in the last 30 to 40 years to provide private regulation of air traffic; Big Aviation (Major Airlines and Air Cargo Carriers) would have done their best to stomp out general aviation; and they are currently trying to do that through the Government with an attempt to reclassify certain charter operations as Part 121 airline operations.

    There has to be some level of coordination. The problem is I can’t get my mind around it just now.

  • BillB: You are correct on all points. The whole concept of supervision by anyone runs counter to freedom and the fundamental concepts that built this country. Too bad people now buy into it at all levels, blindly.

  • Cotour

    The gift of the radical and not so radical Liberals and Leftists:

    “Execution-style shootings carried out by “child soldiers”, apartment buildings rocked by bombings, innocent relatives targeted in vendettas, and the morning news summarizing the night’s death toll — all have become disturbingly routine in the normally quiet country.”

    Liberalism and the accompanying low and no standards in the name of compassion and “equality” and “political correctness” will kill most everyone. Or at the least force most to live in fear where the inmates run the asylum.

    It is ongoing in Sweden and it has been encouraged and promoted in the United States.

    I say, no thank you.

  • Cotour

    An update from America: “Flight Attendant in Chicago Unresponsive After Vagrant with 21 Convictions Spears Her in the Head with Log in “Javelin-Like Manner”

    The Left believes that everyone must be and remain stupid and suicidal.

  • pzatchok

    Why do I get the feeling that NASA with a little expanding would be a better guardian of space, space tech and commercial space far better than all those other organizations.

    Sort of the devil you know thing.

  • Casn this possibly be the stupidest, anti-commercial space bill yet? The only eason that we do not have commercial habitats in the LaGrange limits adn on the moon is bacauseor thr US Govt. and the UN. USA out of the UN and vice versa and non-military or commercially leased US government operations outr of space.

  • Sorry about my misspelling. I have not slept well in weeks [sciatica].

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