Kelly, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Strengthen U.S. Competitiveness in Space

Legislation would streamline commercial space launches

This week, Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced their Licensing Aerospace Units to New Commercial Heights (LAUNCH) Act, which would streamline the application process for commercial space launches and the licensing of private remote sensing space systems or satellites. 

“Outdated regulations shouldn’t hold back the advancement of commercial spaceflight,” said Kelly. “The LAUNCH Act will support innovation and increase competition in the commercial space industry by modernizing the regulations that govern launch and reentry.” 

“The United States cannot afford to lose its competitive edge in space, but foreign adversaries like Russia and China will continue making every effort to undermine American innovation,” said Cornyn. “The LAUNCH Act would make sure the federal government isn’t standing in its own way by streamlining the approval process for commercial space launches and reducing the regulatory burden placed on innovators.”   

“Our bipartisan bill cuts red tape to improve commercial space launches and remove barriers in the licensing process — strengthening America’s global leadership in space exploration and innovation,” said Sinema

“New Mexico is already at the forefront of our country’s leadership in space exploration and innovation. Ranging from Spaceport America, to Kirtland Air Force Base, and White Sands Missile Range, our state’s success is clear and should be supported,” said Luján. “That’s why I’m proud to join Senator Cornyn to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will streamline federal oversight for commercial space flights. This bill will ensure regulations are modernized and up-to-date, allowing New Mexico to continue our leadership.”

“The United States must remain competitive with China in space,” said Rubio. “The LAUNCH Act will cut unnecessary red tape relating to commercial space launches to encourage American innovation in the commercial space industry.”
“Florida’s Space Coast is a thriving hub for the aerospace industry with its long history and continued growth of both private and public partners,” said Scott. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in the introduction of the Licensing Aerospace Units to New Commercial Heights (LAUNCH) Act to cut unnecessary government red tape to prioritize American businesses and ensure our nation remains a leader in space exploration.”


Commercial space regulations were developed in an era with limited industry activity. These regulations require modernization to adapt to ongoing technological development and anticipated growth and maintain safety while reducing bureaucratic burden. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approval process for commercial space launches is onerous and subject to arbitrary minimum review timelines, which gives foreign adversaries the economic and national security advantage. To maintain America’s competitive position, the FAA must be able to efficiently approve weekly and, eventually, daily launch and reentry operations by multiple companies in a manner that reduces the burden on the commercial space industry and government resources.  

The LAUNCH Act would require: 

  • The FAA to streamline the application of regulations for commercial space launches and reentry requirements by eliminating duplicative efforts and taking industry feedback into account;  
  • The Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce to streamline licensing of private remote sensing space systems or satellites; 
  • And the FAA and CRSRA to provide assistance to applicants to help them navigate licensing processes. 

This legislation is endorsed by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.