The House today agreed by unanimous consent to the Senate-amended version of HR 6586, a bill originally intended to provide a two-year extension to commercial launch indemnification. As noted yesterday, the Senate effectively replaced the House bill with a scaled back version of the Space Exploration Sustainability Act that Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced last month. This bill provides only a one-year extension to commercial launch indemnification, but also includes an extension of NASA’s waiver to provisions of the Iran North Korea Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA) through the end of 2020, allowing the space agency to continue to purchase goods and services from Russia for operation of the International Space Station. The revised bill also includes a “Sense of Congress” provision supporting development of both the Space Launch System and Orion vehicles as well as commercial crew systems.
The bill may be the last passed by the House in the 112th Congress. Immediately after dispensing with the bill (a process that took about 30 seconds, according to the Office of the Clerk of the House), the House adjourned until 11 am Thursday, just before the 113th Congress will be sworn in.
Update 1:10 pm: The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) swiftly issued a release about the passage of the legislation, which now awaits the president’s signature. The industry organization is understandably pleased with the bill’s passage, but hints at work to come later this year since the indemnification extension only runs through the end of 2013. “We will continue to work toward a long-term risk-sharing provision that would provide certainty to a growing industry,” CSF executive director Alex Saltman said in the statement.