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Dec 03

Recent national space lawmaking in the USA

On 25 November, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the so-called Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (H.R. 2262).

For the text, see https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2262/text.

The law encompasses four titles:

  • Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (acronym: SPACE)
  • Commercial Remote Sensing
  • Office of Space Commerce
  • Space Resource Exploration and Utilization.

Title I essentially amends the Commercial Space Launch Act, amongst others as regards jurisdictional and liability issues, as well as governmental astronauts flying on commercial vehicles. Title II amends the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act. Title III re-labels the existing Office of Space Commercialization as Office of Space Commerce and rephrases its purposes, and Title IV addresses in a preliminary fashion space resource exploitation.

The Act repeatedly refers to the obligations under international space law resting upon the United States, which the Act and its further implementation and regulation is to comply with, including more particularly a reference to the lack of applicability of territorial sovereignty to outer space as per Article II of the Outer Space Treaty, and the need to authorize and supervise relevant space activities by the private sector further to Article VI of that Treaty.

The IISL will continue to study the development of national space legislation, and plans to publish a statement on resource use under space law in the near future.