Legislative Proposal to Establish Bureau of Space Commerce

On October 15, 2018, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross submitted to Congress a legislative proposal to establish a new Bureau of Space Commerce headed by an Assistant Secretary for Space Commerce.

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Download section-by-section analysis (PDF)

Section-by-Section Analysis
Space Policy Advancing Commerce (“SPACE”) Act

Section 1. Short Title.

This section provides that the bill shall be known as the Space Policy Advancing Commerce (“SPACE”) Act.

Section 2. Definitions.

This section provides definitions for commercial space activities, Department, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, executive agency, Secretary, and United States governed entity.

Section 3. Policy and Purpose.

(a) Policy. This section provides the policy rationale that space commerce is important to the Nation’s continued economic growth, job creation, technological innovation, human development, and national security. It states that it is a priority of the government to consolidate and reduce regulatory burdens to create a favorable economic environment for commercial space activities in the United States.

(b) Purpose. This section provides the purpose for the legislation, which includes encouraging commercial space activity; streamlining regulations; consolidating the Department of Commerce’s space commerce functions; and authorizing implementation of certain international obligations.

Section 4. Bureau of Space Commerce.

(a) This section amends 51 U.S.C. § 50701 to change the name of the Office of Space Commerce to the Bureau of Space Commerce.

(b) This section amends 51 U.S.C. § 50702 by:

  • Establishing a Bureau of Space Commerce within the Department of Commerce.
  • Elevating the position of Director to an Assistant Secretary for Space Commerce, to be appointed by the President and to report directly to the Secretary of Commerce.
  • Directing the newly formed Bureau to oversee the Department’s promotion, coordination, and regulation of commercial space commerce activities including, fostering conditions for economic growth in the space commerce industry; coordinating space commerce policy within the Department; representing the Department in negotiations to promotes U.S. space commerce abroad; promoting U.S. geospatial technologies; and providing support to Federal organizations working on space-based positioning navigation.
  • Directing the Assistant Secretary to coordinate Department policy impacting commercial space activity; to promote commercial investment in commercial space activities; to assist commercial providers with conducting business with the U.S. government; to act as an industry advocate within the Executive Branch; to ensure the U.S. Government does not compete with commercial providers; to represent the U.S. Government in negotiations with foreign countries in the area of space commerce; to remove impediments to space commerce activities; to streamline the Department’s regulations relating to commercial space activities; and to develop procedures for authorizing and supervising commercial space activities.

(c) This section amends 51 USC 60121 by striking paragraph (a)(2), removing a limitation on the Secretary of Commerce’s licensing authority related to private space systems. This section further strikes Section 60124 and delegates the authority to regulate remote sensing activities to the Bureau of Space Commerce.

Section 5. Industry Advice.

(a) This section directs the Secretary to engage with representatives of the commercial space industry to seek input on policy and regulatory updates.

(b) This section provides that the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the interactions described in Section 5(a) of this Act.

Section 6. Authorization of Appropriations

This section authorizes to be appropriated to the Bureau of Space Commerce $10 million for each of the fiscal years 2020 through 2024.