SPACE & LAW: 1997 Space Competitiveness Act (was Re: SPACE: Cassini Mission Consequences)

Keith Elis (
Wed, 24 Sep 1997 12:58:16 -0400

Richard Plourde wrote:

> Request: anyone who *does* know the legality of U.S.-based
> private launches, please illuminate. I note that, if significant
> legal barriers exist, they would represent quite the opposite of
> "pump priming."

Someone, I think it was Forrest, mentioned changes to the law as of this
year. He was right. Not only do these laws represent removal of existing
barriers (if any ever did exist) but I would say that they qualify as
"pump-priming" as well (of special note in this view are secs. 5803,
5807, and 5808).

>From 15 USCS Sec. 5801-5803; 5807-5808 (1997):

Sec. 5801. Findings

The Congress finds that--

(1) commercial activities of the private sector have substantially
contributed to the strength of both the United States space program and
the national economy;

(2) a robust United States space transportation capability remains a
vital cornerstone of the United States space program;

(3) the availability of commercial launch services is essential for
the continued growth of the United States commercial space sector;


(7) private sector use of available Government facilities on a
reimbursable basis contributes to a stronger commercial space sector;

Sec. 5802. Definitions

For the purpose of this title--

(1) the term "agency" means an executive agency as defined by section
105 of title 5, United States Code;

<SNIP stuff on anchor tenancy>

(3) the term "commercial" means having--

(A) private capital at risk, and

(B) primary financial and management responsibility for the activity
reside with the private sector;

(4) the term "cost effective" means costing no more than the
available alternatives, determined by a comparison of all related direct
and indirect costs including, in the case of Government costs,
applicable Government labor and overhead costs as well as contractor
charges, and taking into account the ability of each alternative to
accommodate mission requirements as well as the related factors of risk,
reliability, schedule, and technical performance;

(5) the term "launch" means to place, or attempt to place, a launch
vehicle and its payload, if any, in a suborbital trajectory, in Earth
orbit in outer space, or otherwise in outer space;


Sec 5803. Launch voucher demonstration program

(a) Commercial space voucher demonstration program; effective
period. The Administrator [of the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration] shall establish a demonstration program to award
vouchers for the payment of commercial launch services and payload
integration services for the purpose of launching payloads funded by the
Office of Commercial Programs within the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration to become effective October 1, 1993. Such program shall
not be effective after September 30, 1995.


Sec. 5807. Use of government facilities

(a) Authority. Federal agencies, including the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration and the Department of Defense, may allow
non-Federal entities to use their space-related facilities on a
reimbursable basis if the Administrator [of the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration], the Secretary of Defense, or the appropriate
agency head determines that--

(1) the facilities will be used to support commercial space

(2) such use can be supported by existing or planned Federal

(3) such use is compatible with Federal activities;

(4) equivalent commercial services are not available on reasonable
terms; and

(5) such use is consistent with public safety, national security, and
international treaty obligations.

@ 5808. Commercial Space Achievement Award

(a) Establishment. There is established a Commercial Space
Achievement Award. The award shall consist of a medal, which shall be of
such design and materials and bear such inscriptions as determined by
the Secretary of Commerce. A cash prize may also be awarded if funding
for the prize is available under subsection (d).

(b) Criteria for award. The Secretary of Commerce shall periodically
make, and the Chairman of the National Space Council shall present,
awards under this section to individuals, corporations, corporate
divisions, or corporate subsidiaries substantially engaged in commercial
space activities who in the opinion of the Secretary of Commerce best
meet the following criteria:

(1) For corporate entities, at least one-half of the revenues from
the space-related activities of the corporation, division, or subsidiary
is derived from sources other than the United States Government.

(2) The activities and achievements of the individual, corporation,
division, or subsidiary have substantially contributed to the United
States gross national product and the stature of United States industry
in international markets, with due consideration for both the economic
magnitude and the technical quality of the activities and achievements.

(3) The individual, corporation, division, or subsidiary has
substantially advanced space technology and space applications directly
related to commercial space activities.

(c) Limitations. No individual or corporate entity may receive an
award under this section more than once every 5 years.

(d) Funding for award. The Secretary of Commerce may seek and accept
gifts of money from public and private sources for the purpose of making
cash prize awards under this section. Such money may be used only for
that purpose, only such money may be used for that purpose, and the
Secretary of Commerce shall make publicly available an itemized list of
the sources of such funding.