Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today 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-Texas), Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), and Space Subcommittee Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-Md.).

Chairman Smith: “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.   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.”

Ranking Member Johnson: “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.  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.”

Subcommittee Chairman Palazzo: “This legislation allows U.S. companies to remain competitive with foreign launch providers by extending liability coverage similar to what other countries provide. 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.”

Subcommittee Ranking Member Edwards: “Both Federal and commercial customers rely on the commercial space launch industry for safe, reliable, and effective services in delivering payloads to orbit and providing related space transportation services.  I want to ensure that our legislation and policies regarding commercial space transportation reflect the changing industry—changes and activities that may not have been contemplated when the liability and indemnification regime was first established. This 1-year extension provides Congress the opportunity to consider any potential changes that might be needed to ensure the continued safety of the uninvolved public as the commercial space industry grows and changes.”

The bill can be found here.