Congress, Pentagon

Posey introduces spaceport infrastructure bill

Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL) introduced legislation Thursday that will make it easier for commercial entities to use and upgrade military launch infrastructure. The text of the “Revitalizing America‚Äôs Commercial Entrepreneurs (RACE) for Space Act”, HR 4401, hasn’t been posted yet, but Posey’s office said in a statement that it would allow commercial space companies to use DOD space transportation infrastructure, such as launch pads, without cost to the taxpayer. The bill’s summary states that it would direct the Secretary of Defense to work with, and accept funding from, non-federal entities “to promote efficiencies of the space transportation infrastructure of the Department of Defense in commercial space activities.”

“We have been losing launches to overseas competitors and that is not good for our economic competitiveness or our national security,” Posey said in a statement. “We need to change that direction and my bill will do that. This bill is a win-win.”

At an Aerospace States Association policy forum last month in Washington, Florida lieutenant governor Jennifer Carroll mentioned that Posey was “trying to craft the language with the Air Force” on legislation—presumably this bill—to support public-private partnerships regarding launch activities. She described such partnerships as the most promising direction in space efforts. “It’s the way we have to go” in order to make certain space activities, like delivery of cargo to the ISS, possible in “a more efficient, effective, and cost saving manner.”

9 comments to Posey introduces spaceport infrastructure bill

  • Coastal Ron

    Well, OK, I guess.

    Is this the most pressing problem that’s limiting the number of commercial launches from government facilities?

    I thought the Eastern Range, which handles flights from not only Cape Canaveral, but from Wallops all the way down to Guiana for ESA’s Guiana Space Centre, needed to be upgraded so that they could handle more flights, with less time between flights?

    Did those improvements ever get funded?

  • Byeman

    ER does not handle flights at Wallops or Guiana. It may supply some resources but it is not the lead range for those sites. And support to those sites is on a non interference basis.

    Manpower is the real limiting factor. The range is funded for 5/40 ops with some shift adjustment and overtime to handle weekends and offshifts. That is what limits turnaround between launches and some minor comm modernization.

  • David Teek

    Ron –

    This oversimplifies things, and I am not familiar with the precise language in this specific bill, but I believe that space transportation infrastructure improvements would likely need to include ground support facilities / equipment, some installation wide improvements (such as comm & data networks) and flight tracking equipment and technology. The last item is what is most people refer to as “the Range”, but really, Cape Canaveral functions as a hub that provides vehicle and payload assembly and integration, conducts launch operations, provides flight control / safety, and some regulatory review and approval for on site vehicles and operations.

    Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is chartered and funded as a defense installation, but it is used and needed for commercial and civil (NASA) launches. It needs upgrades and new investment across the board to be fully up to snuff to meet the total 21st Century mission model and exploit new technologies. Further, it probably is not really appropriate to try to get all of these improvements paid for from the defense budget, since they are not defense-only requirements and DoD is going through its own cost reduction exercise.

    The 45th Space Wing and launch companies have been able to work through and around these issues for decades, but it is not optimal by any means. So this would be probably be an enabler for a mix of blended funding / side by side improvement projects, which could involve industry, transportation, state and financing dollars. This would be similar in some ways to how airport improvements are funded, with a blend of funding from FAA, state, airport authority, user fees and direct commercial spending.

  • Coastal Ron

    Byeman wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Thanks for the clarification and update.

  • Coastal Ron

    David Teek wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Thanks too for the update.

    Further, it probably is not really appropriate to try to get all of these improvements paid for from the defense budget…

    Agreed. DoD should only need to pay a proportional share. I also agree with your summary:

    This [funding the upgrades] would be similar in some ways to how airport improvements are funded, with a blend of funding from FAA, state, airport authority, user fees and direct commercial spending.

    Like most things space-related, we don’t have a transportation vision articulated enough to help make this happen. I hope that changes soon.

  • vulture4

    This bill provides NO funding. it provides NO new facilities since CX-37 (Delta), CX-40 (Falcon) and CX-41 (Atlas) are all commercial already, the remaining CCAFS pads are abandoned, and numerous offers to use them have already been floated by Space Florida and other entities. The goal of this bill is simply to allow Posey to make the claim that he is promoting private industry and creating jobs while cutting taxes, and let him take credit for anything good while blaming anything bad on the Democrats.

    Posey’s last attempt to “revolutionize NASA” was a bill to outlaw all research on the earth’s climate, based on his concern that it might produce scientific results he doesn’t like. http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/02/republican-climate-nasa-budget

    Posey is the antithesis of a team player on space. He attacks President Obama and all Democrats at every opportunity, using vicious ridicule and simplistic political polarization. He understands nothing about space, indeed he is proud that his education ended with an AA in 1969, but he really knows how to work a partisan crowd with the red meat of hostility and contempt.

  • Posey’s bill addresses the “augmentation” rule that prevents states from using their non-federal money to improve or modify infrastructure developed by DOD for military programs. Such augmentation has been barred because it can be used to inappropriately influence the placement of DOD programs in states or at locations where they weren’t intended by DOD.

    An unintended consequence of the augmentation rule is that it prevents companies agencies like Space Florida, from investing to expand the capability and competitiveness of DOD-owned launch facilities that also serve the commercial launch industry. Rep. Posey’s bill would permit such investments.

  • David Teek

    While the text of the bill has not yet been posted on the House website (still somewhere in the Govt. Printing Office process apparently), I believe it may provide a meaningful first step in increasing capacity and flexibility at the launch site, which in turn would lower costs for all users and increase commercial competitiveness.

    While I have had and continue to have significant political and policy disagreements with Rep. Posey over the years, he has been very consistent in working to address both process and infrastructure issues at the Cape since he was first elected to the Florida House in 1992. I think he deserves a not small share of the credit for the improvements and innovation that have occurred to date.

    I think the discussion around here would be improved if folks would stay away from ad hominum attacks and tried harder to stick to issues and facts.

  • David Teek

    FYI – The bill is now online:

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.4401:

    H.R.4401 — RACE for Space Act (Introduced in House – IH)

    HR 4401 IH

    112th CONGRESS

    2d Session

    H. R. 4401

    To direct the Secretary of Defense to work with non-Federal entities and accept non-Federal funding under strict implementation guidelines to promote efficiencies of the space transportation infrastructure of the Department of Defense in commercial space activities.

    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

    April 19, 2012

    Mr. POSEY introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services

    A BILL

    To direct the Secretary of Defense to work with non-Federal entities and accept non-Federal funding under strict implementation guidelines to promote efficiencies of the space transportation infrastructure of the Department of Defense in commercial space activities.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Revitalizing America’s Commercial Entrepreneurs for Space Act’ or the `RACE for Space Act’.

    SEC. 2. COMMERCIAL SPACE LAUNCH COOPERATION.

    (a) In General- Chapter 135 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

    `Sec. 2275. Commercial space launch cooperation.

    `(a) Authority- The Secretary of Defense may, to assist the Secretary of Transportation in carrying out responsibilities set forth in titles 49 and 51 with respect to private sector involvement in commercial space activities and public-private partnerships pertaining to space transportation infrastructure, take such actions as the Secretary considers to be in the best interest of the Federal Government to do the following:

    `(1) Maximize the use of the capacity of the space transportation infrastructure of the Department of Defense by the private sector in the United States.

    `(2) Maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the space transportation infrastructure of the Department of Defense.

    `(3) Reduce the cost of services provided by the Department of Defense related to space transportation infrastructure at launch support facilities and space recovery support facilities.

    `(4) Encourage commercial space activities by enabling investment in the space transportation infrastructure of the Department of Defense by covered entities.

    `(5) Foster cooperation between the Department of Defense and covered entities.

    `(b) Authority for Contract and Other Agreement Relating to Space Transportation Infrastructure- The Secretary of Defense–

    `(1) may enter into a contract or other agreement with a covered entity to provide to the covered entity support and services related to the space transportation infrastructure of the Department of Defense; and

    `(2) upon the request of that covered entity, may include such support and services in the space launch and reentry range support requirements of the Department of Defense if–

    `(A) the Secretary determines that the inclusion of such support and services in such requirements–

    `(i) is in the best interest of the Federal Government;

    `(ii) does not interfere with the requirements of the Department of Defense; and

    `(iii) does not compete with the commercial space activities of other covered entities, unless that competition is in the national security interests of the United States; and

    `(B) any commercial requirement included in a contract or other agreement entered into under this subsection has full non-Federal funding before the execution of the contract or other agreement.

    `(c) Contributions-

    `(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of Defense may enter into contracts or other agreements with covered entities on a cooperative and voluntary basis to accept contributions of funds, services, and equipment to carry out this section.

    `(2) USE OF CONTRIBUTIONS- Any funds, services, or equipment accepted by the Secretary under this subsection–

    `(A) may be used only for the objectives specified in this section in accordance with terms of use set forth in the contract or other agreement entered into under this subsection; and

    `(B) shall be managed by the Secretary in accordance with regulations of the Department of Defense.

    `(3) REQUIREMENTS WITH RESPECT TO AGREEMENTS- A contract or other agreement entered into under this subsection shall address the terms of use, ownership and disposition of the funds, and services or equipment contributed pursuant to the contract or other agreement.

    `(d) Defense Cooperation Space Launch Account-

    `(1) ESTABLISHMENT- There is established in the Treasury of the United States a special account to be known as the `Defense Cooperation Space Launch Account’.

    `(2) CREDITING OF FUNDS- Funds received by the Secretary of Defense under subsection (c) shall be credited to the Defense Cooperation Space Launch Account and shall be available until expended without further authorization or appropriation only for the objectives specified in this section.

    `(e) Annual Report- Not later than January 31 of each year, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the funds and equipment accepted and used by the Secretary under this section during the previous fiscal year.

    `(f) Definitions- In this section:

    `(1) COVERED ENTITY- The term `covered entity’ means a non-Federal entity that–

    `(A) is organized under the laws of the United States or of any jurisdiction within the United States; and

    `(B) is engaged in commercial space activities.

    `(2) LAUNCH SUPPORT FACILITIES- The term `launch support facilities’ has the meaning given that term in section 50501(7) of title 51.

    `(3) SPACE RECOVERY SUPPORT FACILITIES- The term `space recovery support facilities’ has the meaning given that term in section 50501(11) of title 51.

    `(4) SPACE TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE- The term `space transportation infrastructure’ has the meaning given that term in section 50501(12) of title 51.’.

    (b) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

    `2275. Commercial space launch cooperation.’.

    (c) Regulations- The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe regulations relating to the activities of the Department of Defense under section 2275 of title 10, United States Code, as added by subsection (a).

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