March 25, 2024

Senator Schmitt, Senator Sinema, Introduce The Commercial SPACE Leadership Act

The bipartisan bill is supported by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX.

WASHINGTON – Recently, Senator Eric Schmitt, Ranking Member of the Space and Science Subcommittee of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, along with Chair Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), introduced the Commercial Standards Paramount to Accelerating Cosmic Exploration (SPACE) Leadership Act providing a critical extension of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) learning period to ensure the commercial space industry can continue to develop, while pausing onerous regulations for five years:

“Greatness is achieved though good faith and collaboration, which is exactly what the Commercial SPACE Leadership Act aims to accomplish. By allowing private companies the leeway to drive and provide input on future commercial human space flight regulations, we are facilitating a new era that maintains and improves our competitiveness in space. Continuing the ‘light touch’ approach provided by the learning period and creating new areas for industry to provide input is crucial to supporting the commercial space sector and our nation’s larger space endeavors. Simply put, this bill keeps regulations at bay for another five years, allowing industry and the government to continue to work towards an eventual framework,” said Senator Eric Schmitt.

“Our bipartisan legislation enhances commercial space travel by increasing safety and ensuring America’s continued leadership in space innovation and exploration,”said Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

“The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) applauds Senators Sinema and Schmitt, bipartisan Senate Subcommittee on Space and Science leadership, for introducing this important legislation,” said Karina Drees, Commercial Spaceflight Federation President. “The commercial space industry is eager to work with its government partners in Congress and the executive branch to chart a productive path forward that continues to promote human spaceflight innovation and safety. The framework laid out in this bill puts our nation on that path.”

“Virgin Galactic welcomes the introduction of the Commercial SPACE Leadership Act of 2024. This legislation will promote the safe and continued growth of the commercial human spaceflight industry and further the goal of making space more accessible. The bill continues the success of the learning period and creates key roles for government and industry to build critical expertise as more people venture to space,” said Virgin Galactic.

“Blue Origin strongly supports the Commercial SPACE Leadership Act of 2024. This bill’s emphasis on sustained collaboration will ensure that the Office of Commercial Space Transportation benefits from the experience gained by human spaceflight providers. An extended learning period will enable us to build on our strong foundations of safety and innovation as the industry continues to grow. We thank subcommittee Chair Sinema and Ranking Member Schmitt for their bipartisan work on this timely legislation,” said Megan Mitchell, Vice President, Government Relations at Blue Origin

“SpaceX supports this bill, particularly its focus on efficient licensing modernization to keep pace with commercial innovation and the industry’s demonstrated commitment to safety,” saidWilliam Gerstenmaier, VP, Build & Flight Reliability, at SpaceX.


  • The FAA’s current moratorium on commercial human spaceflight regulations, or “learning period,” is currently set to expire this year.
  • The learning period was designed to provide flexibility and allow the commercial space industry to develop and gather data and information to help inform potential regulations in the future.
  • In absence of regulations, the commercial space sector and any passengers on board acknowledge that the government has not certified a vehicle as safe and the vehicle operator and any passengers on board accepts the risk associated with boarding a vehicle.
  • The learning period has been extended longer than one year twice since 2004, and in both cases, an extension was necessary since the industry was still evolving and there were not enough launches or activity to provide adequate data for regulations. 
  • Over the last three years we have the number of commercial launches carrying humans increase significantly, however most of those launches have only been carried out by one provider.

The Commercial SPACE Leadership Act specifically:

  • Gives industry an important seat at the table in any future development of commercial human spaceflight regulations and it also includes strong accountability measures to ensure that any eventual regulations do not stifle commercial innovation.  
  • Provides a number of critical pieces to not only ensure industry has more time but it would also ensure that industry works hand in hand with the FAA and is the key driver behind any regulations that are implemented.
  • Extends the learning period a total of five years.
  • Within that five years, the FAA would work with industry to develop and implement voluntary consensus standards agreed upon by industry to comply with.
  • Additionally, any voluntary standards adopted or developed would drive a rulemaking committee set up by the FAA consisting of technical experts at FAA and NASA, which would be tasked with developing regulations before the learning period’s expiration. 
  • Provides industry the time and input that is needed to ensure that regulations are driven by industry.
  • As the government becomes a customer of commercial launch providers, sending government astronauts on commercial rockets, it is essential that regulations provide clear and workable rules of the road so that the U.S. is the example for the world and our nation remains the preeminent force in space.