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House passes commercial space bill
Posted: Fri, Mar 5, 2004, 8:08 AM ET (1308 GMT)
The House of Representatives passed by an overwhelming margin on Thursday legislation that would support the nascent commercial suborbital launch industry. By a vote of 402-1, the House approved the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 (HR 3752). The bill specifies that the FAA's office of commercial space transportation has the authority to license commercial suborbital launches, and also allows the FAA to grant simple experimental permits for some suborbital test flights. The bill also extends government indemnification for launches to include licensed suborbital flights, and extends the overall indemnification provision to 2008 while authorizing a study to see if government indemnification is appropriate. The legislation was sought by much of the suborbital launch vehicle industry, who wanted to eliminate any confusion regarding whether their vehicles would be licensed as launch vehicles or certified as aircraft. The FAA already issued regulations last year that consider suborbital vehicles as launch vehicles for licensing purposes, but the bill now sets those definitions and rules into law. A Senate version of the bill, S.1260, is still under consideration there.
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