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Without a word of dissension, members of the House Science Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics today voted unanimously for the Commercial Space Act of 1997. The legislation now goes to the full Science committee for its consideration, as of today scheduled for Wednesday, June 18.
In a release from the Subcommittee's offices, Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) stated, "I am pleased that H.R. 1702 was reported out of the Subcommittee with such broad bipartisan support. "Today we took the first step towards sending this legislation to the President for his signature later this year, which will be a great advancement for U.S. leadership in international development of the space frontier."
At today's hearing, two amendments were offered, both of which also passed unanimously. The first amendment, sponsored by the Chairman, includes language on remote sensing proposed by the Administration. It states: "It is a fundamental goal of United States policy to support and enhance United States industrial competitiveness in the field of remote sensing, while at the same time protecting the national security concerns and international obligations of the United States."
The amendment also clarifies procedures for the modification or termination of a commercial remote sensing license. It preserves the Commerce Department's ability to unilaterally impose administrative penalties of $10,000 per day on companies it believes are failing to comply with the terms of their license. As originally drafted, the Commercial Space Act included legislation to require the Commerce Department to go to court and prove noncompliance before penalties can be imposed. But both the State and Commerce Departments objected to this provision and the language was removed.
A second amendment was offered by Congressman Hastings (D-FL). It requires NASA to "administer the Commercial Space Center (CSC) program in a coordinated manner from National Aeronautics and Space Administration headquarters." In 1996, NASA reorganized the CSC program, closing one office, transferring management of ten others, and splitting six others away and attaching them to NASA field centers. Some survived; others were placed in jeopardy by the change in venue. When NASA detached the six CSCs, it did not continue funding through a headquarters account.
About the "NSS Capital Capsule"
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