For some in the space industry, the confirmation hearing they will be paying close attention to on the morning of Nov. 1 will not be the one by the Senate Commerce Committee to consider the nomination of Jim Bridenstine to be NASA administrator.
The White House announced April 14 that President Donald Trump had nominated to the board of the Export-Import Bank two former members of Congress, one of them a staunch critic of the bank’s lending practices.
Robert Lighthizer told senators it would be up to President Trump to nominate new board members for the bank.
Spacecom is buying its newest spacecraft from an American supplier without relying on financial support from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, according to a company official.
The Obama Administration is seeking language in a temporary spending bill Congress must pass by the end of September that would allow the Ex-Im Bank to resume approvals of large deals, including those involving commercial satellites.
Satellite and rocket builder Orbital ATK on May 5 said its re-engined Antares medium-lift launch vehicle likely would make its first flight in July and would be nicely profitable for Orbital even if it wins no other customers beyond its current NASA space station resupply business.
After several years of taking legislative dysfunction to new heights, the U.S. Congress has shown signs in recent weeks of a return to some semblance of sanity.
Congress should act now to reopen Ex-Im’s doors and stop undermining one of our most dynamic industrial sectors.
A few years ago, many in the space industry hadn’t heard of this bank. Even today, its role in the industry is not widely known except among those who build commercial satellites and sell commercial launches. Yet in the last five years it’s become a critical tool for those companies. At least, when the bank is open for business.
As a second U.S. satellite manufacturer reported losing contracts because of the lack of export credit financing, industry executives argued that reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. is essential for American companies to compete globally for many commercial satellite and launch contracts.
Satellite builders Boeing and Lockheed Martin said they would use their global presences to create at least the semblance of satellite production facilities outside the United States to tap into export-credit agency funding if the U.S. Export-Import Bank did not reopen.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank, as expected, closed its doors to new business July 1 following the U.S. Congress’s inability to renew bank authorization, but said all existing loans and guarantees will be maintained and carried to their maturity.
To no one’s surprise, congressional critics of the U.S. Export-Import Bank have seized on the opportunity afforded by the bankruptcy of startup Australian satellite operator NewSat to hammer the institution, which faces a July 1 shutdown unless lawmakers act to keep it open.