BETHESDA, MD. October 8, 2003 – The SubOrbital Institute today praised the House for its introduction of H.R. 3245, the “Commercial Space Act of 2003,” dealing with the regulation of commercial suborbital and orbital spaceflight.  “Chairman Dana Rohrabacher and Ranking Democratic Members Ralph Hall and Bart Gordon, by authoring this bill, have shown once again that they are men of leadership,” said Pat Bahn, Washington representative of the SubOrbital Institute.  “Many important provisions of this bill deal with vital suborbital industry issues,” Bahn continued.  “They and their colleagues are to be commended for being proactive as well as visionary.”

“We don’t yet know exactly when the full House Science Committee will have markup this bill, much less when the full House will have an opportunity to vote on it,” said Ed Wright, Executive Director of the SubOrbital Institute, “but we feel certain that it will act quickly – certainly in enough time so that the Senate may consider it during this Congress,” he continued.  “We’re certainly quite pleased at the swift markup today by the Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.  We believe this legislation has a very good chance of being signed into law during the 108th Congress,” he affirmed.

Suborbital flight is a market of huge strategic and economic importance.  The suborbital market exists in the gap between airplanes and orbital spacecraft.  Suborbital vehicles share some characteristics with airplanes, some others with orbital spacecraft, and still others with launch vehicles; but they are also different in many significant ways.  Suborbital spaceflight presents a number of extremely interesting business opportunities with important economic and national security implications, in areas as diverse as imaging, science, and tourism.

Section 3 of H. R. 3245 amends the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 by finally providing legal definitions of what exactly constitutes a “suborbital rocket” and a “suborbital trajectory.”  The Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (“FAA/AST”), an office within FAA, executes the duties of the Commercial Space Launch Act.

“FAA/AST has been studying what they have to do to regulate commercial suborbital flight operations,” Pat Bahn stated, “and after consultation with industry they’ve come up with what we think are very good definitions of what constitutes a “suborbital rocket” and a “suborbital trajectory.”  Getting these definitions made official, by enactment into statute, which passage of H.R. 3245 would do, will go a great way toward allowing potential investors to invest in suborbital industry,” Bahn avowed.

H. R. 3245 also directs FAA to assure that its regulation of air commerce is effectively separated from its regulation of space commerce so as to assure that, while the public’s safety remains protected, the nascent commercial spaceflight and suborbital industries are also encouraged to grow.  H.R. 3245 further directs that a National Academy of Public Administration study be conducted to determine what changes should be made, and what laws and regulations written, in order to best design and put into place a liability regime that will also encourage this nation’s embryonic commercial spaceflight and suborbital industries while also protecting the safety of the public.

“These two provisions of H.R. 3245, along with its definitions, will be enormously important in helping establish a better investment climate for commercial space activity,” Ed Wright continued.  “The SubOrbital Institute will work single-mindedly to assure its passage into law,” he concluded.

Founded in 2002 by several new, entrepreneurial commercial space companies, The SubOrbital Institute’s mission is to promote regulatory and legislative initiatives it finds to be important to the promotion of a robust suborbital industry.  It is headquartered in Bethesda, MD and may be reached at 301/913-0071.