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Published in Jurist Academic Commentary (Monday, November 30, 2015, 6:52 p.m. ET)


Copyright © 2015 Frans von der Dunk. Used by permission.


On November 25, 2015, President Obama signed into law the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (H.R. 2262). This Act encompasses four titles: I. Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (acronym: SPACE), II. Commercial Remote Sensing, III. Office of Space Commerce, and IV. Space Resource Exploration and Utilization.

Title I amends the Commercial Space Launch Act, which comprises the licensing regime for launches, reentries, and launch port activities, including those carrying spaceflight participants on board.

Title II amends the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act, which allowed for the licensing of private commercial satellite remote-sensing operations, and essentially requires the Secretary of Commerce to provide an overview of licensing practices in this sector so far and any perceived need to update the statutory regime in this respect.

Title III relabels the existing Office of Space Commercialization as Office of Space Commerce and rephrases its purposes.

Title IV, the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act (Chapter 513 of 51 USC), addresses in a preliminary fashion space resource exploitation—the most innovative and disputed part of the Act, certainly in an international context.