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Public Statements

Space Launch Liability Provisions Extension

Floor Speech

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Mr. SMITH of Texas. I thank the chairman for yielding.

First of all, I do want to thank the chairman of the Space Subcommittee, Steve Palazzo of Mississippi, for bringing this must-pass legislation to the floor today. I also want to thank my friend and colleague from Texas, Ralph Hall, the chairman of the Science Committee, and the professional staff of the committee for shepherding this bill and getting us to the point where we are now.

Last June, the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee heard testimony on why government indemnification for commercial rocket launches must be extended. At that hearing, Frank Slazer from the Aerospace Industries Association said it best about why this indemnification is needed:

Many foreign launch providers competing against U.S. companies already benefit from generous indemnification rules. For example, the European company Arianespace is required to purchase insurance up to just 60 million Euros, roughly $75 million. Any damages above this cap are the guaranteed responsibility of the French Government.

We cannot afford to drive away highly skilled technical jobs to foreign countries where the regulatory frameworks provide better critical risk management tools.

Lastly, a non-renewal could impede new U.S. entrants to the commercial launch market, discourage future space launch innovation and entrepreneurial investment. Without a level playing field for competition, new U.S. entrants could find it highly undesirable to begin their business ventures in the United States.

The FAA's launch indemnification authority has been in place for over 20 years, benefiting the American commercial space industry. The bill before us would extend indemnification for 2 more years, and I hope that we can address a longer-term legislative solution when addressing NASA reauthorization and commercial space legislation next year.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to thank the chairman again for yielding me time.

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