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Congress Passes Bill To Boost Commercial Space Industry

SpaceX is one commercial company launching from Florida's Space Coast. Photo: SpaceX
Photo courtesy SpaceX.

A bill that boosts the nation’s commercial space industry is heading to the President’s desk.

The bill, called the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, clears some hurdles facing private space companies.

One provision extends the so-called ‘learning period’ for commercial companies hoping to send humans into space. Now, they’ll have until 2023 to develop that technology before government regulators step in.

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, a co-sponsor of the bill, says the legislation will ignite Florida’s Space Coast.

"Cape Canaveral is going to come alive again. All of those vacated and deserted launch pads are going to come alive," says Nelson. "You will see increased commercial space activity on the Kennedy Space Center, on pad 39-A, from which the shuttle used to launch."

The bill also hashes out ownership rights of materials mined from asteroids in space and extends the operation of the International Space Station.

The bill heads to President Obama for signing.

Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program. Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration, and the weekly news roundup podcast "The Wrap."