We’re here to help you! The House Armed Services Committee, controlled by a majority of Republicans, has approved a defense funding bill that includes an amendment, proposed by a Democrat, that would allow the Space Force to charge much larger fees for the use of its spaceports.
Committee members signed off on the legislation June 22, which proposes $874 billion in defense spending. The full House is slated to vote on the bill in July. Included in the bill is an amendment offered by Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., that would allow the Space Force to collect fees from companies for the indirect costs of using the military’s launch ranges, like overhead infrastructure or other charges that a traditional port authority might impose on its users.
Today, per the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984, the service is limited to collecting fees for direct costs like electricity at a launch pad. The law also restricts the Space Force from accepting in-kind contributions from commercial companies to upgrade its ranges.
The committee’s bill, if approved, would require commercial launch companies to “reimburse the Department of Defense for such indirect costs as the Secretary concerned considers to be appropriate.”
The bill also includes a Republican amendment that encourages the Space Force to charge other additional fees, or require private companies to do work the Space Force is presently handles.
Though the latter amendment might make sense, both amendments will likely achieve just one thing: making it much more expensive to launch from Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg. Whether those increased costs will be kept as low as possible is entirely unknown. We certainly should not trust officials in the federal government to do so.
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