CSF Praises NASA Funding, Launch Indemnification Extension

csf_logo_newestWashington D.C. (CSF PR)– The Commercial Spaceflight Federation thanks the Members of the House of Representatives for the passage of H.R. 3547 today. The bill provides critical funding for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and extends government risk-sharing for U.S. commercial launch companies until December 31, 2016. The previous law that provided this risk-sharing expired on December 31, 2013.

The bill funds NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at $696 million, a significant increase from FY13.

“With this bill’s strong Commercial Crew funding, Congress has acknowledged the importance of quickly developing a U.S. system to carry American astronauts and reduce our dependence on aging Russian infrastructure,” said CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “We applaud Congress for recognizing the importance of a robust U.S. space program and, in particular, an organic capability to provide human access to Low-Earth Orbit.”

H.R. 3547 will also extend a liability risk-sharing regime that has been in place virtually without interruption since 1988.

“The U.S. saw two commercially licensed launches within the second week of 2014, including one for a foreign satellite company,” said Stuart Witt, CSF Chairman and CEO of Mojave Air & Space Port. “The foreign satellite launch was won in a competitive market that includes overseas launch companies, many of which enjoy more robust third-party liability.”

“For their hard work, we thank the sponsors of the House and Senate bills, Representatives Smith, Edwards, Johnson, and Palazzo, and Senators Nelson, Cruz, Feinstein, Heinrich, Kaine, Rubio, Thune, Udall M., Udall T., Warner and Wicker, as well as Representative McCarthy’s leadership on this critical issue for the sector. We look forward to working with Congress to find a permanent solution.”

NASA’s Space Technology program will be funded at $575 million, considerably less than the President’s FY14 request.

”Space Technology is a crucial program for NASA’s future,” said CSF Executive Director Alex Saltman. “We must strengthen our investment in space technology, to ensure NASA has the tools it needs to explore and inspire into the future.”

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) is enabling American companies to develop reliable access to low-Earth orbit including the International Space Station (ISS) and return human launch capabilities back to the U.S. NASA is currently paying approximately $70 million per seat for rides to the ISS on Russian Soyuz vehicles. CCP will give NASA safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to LEO while allowing greater insight into development and production than currently available with the Soyuz. Further, these transportation systems will enable full utilization of the ISS and enhance scientific research and technology development.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is a hub of innovation at the agency, developing technologies that will further space exploration and benefit life on Earth. The U.S. has always been a leader in space because of such programs under this directorate. Robust funding will ensure the nation will continue to be on the forefront of cutting-edge research and technologies that will allow future manned and unmanned missions to new destinations.

The government risk-sharing regime provides necessary financial certainty for commercial launch companies for unforeseen damages to third parties. In the unlikely event of a 1-in-10 million accident, this provision would allow the Secretary of Transportation to seek an expedited appropriation for funds to help pay a portion of the damages. At no cost to taxpayers, a permanent indemnification regime will cut out unnecessary risk and uncertainty in the business of these companies and will allow them to remain competitive with major overseas launch companies in China, Russia and France that offer stronger domestic risk-sharing provisions.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at [email protected] or at 202.347.1418.