Senate Panel OK’s Space Station, Private Space Measures

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee has approved key reforms aimed at helping commercial space companies further expand their operations in Florida.

The approval came Wednesday, according to a Commerce Committee release.

The measure was co-written by Senators Bill Nelson  of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

Officials say the measure, which is known as the Space Frontier Act, streamlines regulations companies have to follow when it comes to launching, reentering or observing Earth from space. 

The measure gives the Department of Transportation a deadline of February 2019 to create a new set of regulations that will better handle new technologies like reusable launch vehicles and the rapid growth of launch activity in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S.  

The bill also modernizes regulations governing companies that build Earth-observing satellites.

Also notable for Florida’s Space Coast, the bill expands opportunities for businesses to partner with NASA under the agency’s enhanced use lease authority.  

Authorities note that arrangements such as these have enabled companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin to expand their operations at Cape Canaveral.

In addition, the measure extends the life of the International Space Station through at least 2030, instead of 2025 as the Trump administration had proposed.

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