Permission to Fly: Granted! Senate Passes Commercial Space Bill Enabling Private Space Flight

Permission to Fly: Granted! Senate Passes Commercial Space Bill Enabling Private Space Flight

December 9, 2004 Press Releases

Los Angeles, CA, December 9, 2004 – The Space Frontier Foundation congratulated all involved in passing a landmark bill that it believes will spur a new race to open space to the American people. Culminating an incredible 18 month effort by a tenacious group of New Space companies, grass roots groups and individuals, and in the 11th hour of a lame duck session, the Senate finally passed bill HR5382, which for the first time acknowledges and lays out a regulatory roadmap for a new generation of firms eager to fly paying passengers into space.

“This is only a first step, and it is not perfect, but it goes along way to establishing legal recognition for what may well prove to be the next wave of American technological leadership,” remarked Rick Tumlinson of the Foundation. “This Bill will allow those entrepreneurs and investors who are willing to step up and build the new ships that will carry humanity into space to do so in an environment that enables their success, rather than the regulatory minefield they had to navigate before.”

The legislation, called “The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act” establishes several basic and important guidelines for these New Space companies to follow. It also removes roadblocks and uncertainties that had hindered their progress and the flow of investments into the fledgling industry. Key elements of the bill are:

  1. It creates a clear legal basis for allowing private and commercial passenger space travel.
  2. It establishes the concept of informed risk, allowing passengers to fly in the new vehicles with a clear understanding of the risk involved while protecting the uninvolved public.
  3. It establishes the definitions for sub-orbital space flight.

“Well before the flights of SpaceShipOne created a global buzz about the coming age of commercial passenger flights into space, this group recognized that the U.S. had to have an environment that would support rather than hinder the development of this new industry, or those flights would be meaningless stunts,” continued Tumlinson. “Lost in the noise, under funded, and misunderstood by Congress people and staffers, the team that did this trudged on to their goal. There were tremendous battles and fights over the details and wording of these regulations,” explained Tumlinson, “but in the end most of them came together as a new industry, and made it happen.”

The Foundation believes investors and entrepreneurs who have been hesitating due to the uncertainties will now get involved in the New Space industry, which it believes represents the next wave of American technological leadership. Historically, it sees this new industry as eventually opening space to humanity, and a wave of exploration and human settlement unprecedented in human history.

“Based on this shared vision, their tenacity and sweat has cleared the regulatory runway. There too many names to thank here, but we are proud of the New Space firms and other organizations that really led this charge and the members of the Space Frontier Foundation who were a part of it. We also thank those in Washington who understood the importance of this work and stepped up to support them.” Tumlinson concluded, “because of their work, it means the time is coming when we all will actually have the chance to go to the frontier of space. Permission to fly has been granted!”

To read the actual Bill and its versions the link is:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:H.R.5382: