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Wed, Dec 04, 2013

House Approves Bill Extending Protection For Commercial Space Launches

Covers Third-Party Liability For Licensed Operations

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday approved the Space Launch Liability Indemnification Extension Act (H.R. 3547) by a vote of 376 to 5. H.R. 3547 is a bipartisan bill that extends for one year a commercial space transportation risk-sharing and liability regime that was established by Congress in 1988 with passage of the Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments.

The bill extends provisions of the Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments, which cover third-party liability for licensed commercial space launches. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) (pictured), Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-MS), and Space Subcommittee Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-MD).
 
“The FAA launch indemnification authority has been in place for over twenty years and the American commercial space industry has benefited significantly over this time. Thankfully the provision has never been triggered by a serious accident," said Chairman Smith. "But the stability it provides allows the U.S. to remain competitive in the global market and push the boundaries of space technology. While I would have preferred a longer extension, this bill buys us time to work on a long-term extension that we will take up next year.”
 
“The commercial space transportation liability and insurance framework has worked, has not cost the American taxpayer a single dollar in claims, and has strengthened U.S. competitiveness in commercial space launch," said Ranking Member Johnson. "And this is not a blank check, since any potential payments for claims would be subject to prior Congressional appropriation. The bill before us today extends the liability risk-sharing framework for a period of one year. While that is less than some in the industry would like, I believe it is an appropriate length. The 1-year extension provides the Congress with the time to conduct necessary hearings, perform our due diligence, and enable the enactment of a comprehensive update to existing commercial space legislation.”
 
“This legislation allows U.S. companies to remain competitive with foreign launch providers by extending liability coverage similar to what other countries provide," said Subcommittee Chair Palazzo. "It is imperative that we foster a competitive environment for the commercial launch providers that are keeping valuable satellites in orbit and completing cargo missions to the International Space Station.”

FMI: Read the Bill

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