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Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015

  (Redirected from SPACE Act of 2015)

The United States Government updated US commercial space legislation in 2015 with the passage of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, sometimes referred to as the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015.[2]

U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015
Great Seal of the United States
Other short titlesSpace Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015, Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015
Long titleTo facilitate a pro-growth environment for the developing commercial space industry by encouraging private sector investment and creating more stable and predictable regulatory conditions, and for other purposes
NicknamesSPACE Act of 2015
Enacted bythe 114th United States Congress
Effective25 November 2015
Public lawPub.L. [ 114–90]
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R. 2262
  • Passed the House on 21 May 2015 
  • Passed the Senate on 11 November 2015[1] 
  • Signed into law by President Barack Obama on 25 November 2015

The update to US law explicitly allows US citizens to "engage in the commercial exploration and exploitation of 'space resources' [including ... water and minerals]." The right does not extend to biological life, so anything that is alive may not be exploited commercially.[3] The Act further asserts that "the United States does not [(by this Act)] assert sovereignty, or sovereign or exclusive rights or jurisdiction over, or the ownership of, any celestial body." [3] Some scholars[4] argue that the United States recognizing ownership of space resources is an act of sovereignty, and that the act violates the Outer Space Treaty.[5] As an important reminder, the outer space territory is an international region. No one state has the supreme legal authority to determine matters of international space law. Thus, it is crucial to understand the International Institute of Space Law's legal power, authority and their position concerning the issue of ownership of outer space natural resources.[6]

The SPACE Act includes the extension of indemnification of US launch providers for extraordinary catastrophic third-party losses of a failed launch through 2025, while the previous indemnification law was scheduled to expire in 2016. The Act also extends, through 2025, the "learning period" restrictions which limit the ability of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to enact regulations regarding the safety of spaceflight participants.[7] Indemnification for extraordinary third-party losses has, as of 2015, been a component of US space law for over 25 years, and during this time, "has never been invoked in any commercial launch mishap."[7]

Businessweek has summarized one effect of the legislation as "American citizens could keep anything they brought back from space.".[8]

Legislative historyEdit

Part of the origin of the law lies in the proposed Asteroids Act introduced by Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) in July 2014. That act was supported by lobbying efforts by Planetary Resources, a Washington-based company that hopes to commercially mine asteroids. Additional lobbying by Deep Space Industries and Bigelow Resources, two other companies with commercial interests in space, helped the proposed Asteroids Act along, which was later rolled into the SPACE Act.[9]

The House of Representatives passed the legislation in May 2015[10] and the Senate subsequently passed similar legislation.[1] The legislation was reconciled between the House of Representatives and the Senate, then moved to the executive branch for signing or vetoing before 20 November 2015.[11][12]President Obama signed the legislation into law on 25 November 2015.[2]


  1. ^ a b Tuttle, Kasey (2015-11-13). "Senate approves bill to legalize space mining". JURIST. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b "H.R.2262 - 114th Congress (2015-2016): U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act". 25 November 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Space Act of 2015: American companies could soon mine asteroids for profit (Wired UK)". Wired UK. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  4. ^ Ridderhof, R. (18 December 2015). "Space Mining and (U.S.) Space Law". Peace Palace Library. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Law Provides New Regulatory Framework for Space Commerce | RegBlog". Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  6. ^ Hobe, Stephan (2016). "The International Institute of Space Law adopts Position Paper on Space Resource Mining". Zeitschrift für Luft und Weltraumrecht: Vierteljahresschrift des Instituts für Luft - und Weltraumrecht der Universität Köln. 65 (2): 204–209. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  7. ^ a b Foust, Jeff (2015-05-26). "Congress launches commercial space legislation". The Space Review. Space News. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  8. ^ Keehn, Jeremy (26 July 2018). "Space is about to get a whole lot more accessible—and potentially profitable". Businessweek. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  9. ^ "The Asteroid Miner's Guide to the Galaxy". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  10. ^ "The Potential $100 Trillion Market For Space Mining". TechCrunch. 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  11. ^ "CSF Applauds House Passage of Visionary, Comprehensive, and Bipartisan Commercial Space Legislation". 2015-11-17. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Bill's passage could spur rocket business on Space Coast". Orlando Sentinel. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.