Private Space Ventures Get Boost as US Senate Passes Landmark Legislation

Landmark legislation recognizes and promotes the rights of private space ventures to engage in the exploration and extraction of space resources from the Moon and other celestial bodies

Last night, November 11, the US Senate passed a bull that supports the growth of the commercial space industry and the rights of private space ventures. 

Title IV of the "U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA, or H.R. 2262 as amended)", provides the first ever codification of rights under United States law for the extraction and utilization of space resources obtained from a celestial body.

This legislation protects and supports U.S. interests as private space ventures expand the economic sphere of Earth to the Moon and beyond.

The House bill, 'Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act (H.R. 2262)', passed in May before it then had to go the Senate for approval.  

The Senate then passed the 'Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (S. 1297)' in August.

The differences in the  bills were then negotiated between the two branches of the US Congress and the the result --  a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate last night recognizing and promoting the right of United States companies to engage in exploration for and the extraction and ownership of space resources free from harmful interference, including water and minerals from the Moon and other celestial bodies.

​The bill now heads back to the House for approval before being sent to the President for signature.

Many private space ventures are applauding the Senate for the support. Not only will the legislation support private sector development, it will also encourage investment into space resource exploration and utilization. 

In a press release issued soon after the bill passed, Moon Express co-founder and CEO, Bob Richards said:

Moon Express is grateful to the Senate, and its visionary champions of the bill, SenatorsJohn Thune (R-SD), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Bill Nelson (D-FL),  We also want to especially thank Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Patty Murray (D-WA) for their support of Title IV, helping ensure that the emerging commercial space resources industry has the backing of the United Statesin its pursuit of energy and materials from the Moon and other bodies that could benefit the U.S. and the world.
Moon Express Lander - one of many US private space ventures

Moon Express Lunar Lander Concept. Source: Moon Express

Bigelow Aerospace's Mike Gold, was in agreement. As the Director of DC Operations & Business Growth and also the Chair of the Federal Advisory Committee to the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (COMSTAC). he added:

This bill confirms the common sense principle that companies can enjoy the fruits of their labor in space, while still ensuring that the U.S. meets its obligations under the Outer Space Treaty.  At last month's COMSTAC meeting, George Nield described the Lunar Village concept that has been proposed by the new leader of the European Space Agency. The opportunities for the private sector on the Moon are substantial, and I'm ecstatic to see Congress supporting legislation that will enable lunar development.

​See this article from Spacenews.com for more about the Moon Village and the support from George Nield.

As a privately funded commercial space company working to get to be the first private space venture to land on the moon, and a leading competitor in Google's Lunar Xprize, Moon Express is particularly pleased with this legislation. As co-founder and Executive Chairman Naveen Jain stated in their press release:

We are thrilled to see such visionary support by the Senate of private sector exploration, extraction and ownership of space resources.  This heralds a new era of economic opportunity for unlocking lunar resources that will benefit the United States and all people of planet Earth.

To view the original press release on PR Newswire, click here.

What do you think? Is this legislation good for private space ventures in the US? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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