Space Access Update #106  11/19/04 
                 Copyright 2004 by Space Access Society 
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URGENT!  Call your Congressman TONIGHT, Friday 11/19, and ask them to 
support HR 5382, The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act, when it 
comes up for a vote by the full House - probably late tonight.  If you 
don't know who your Congressman is, or if you don't have the phone 
number of their DC office handy, log on to http://www.vote-smart.org and 
enter your nine-digit zip code in the Find Your Representatives box.  
Then phone their Washington DC office (the area code 202 number) 
IMMEDIATELY - minutes may count - and tell whoever answers that you're 
from , and you're calling to ask Representative  to vote for HR 5382.  If they ask you for 
more info, do your best to provide it (take a quick look at the info 
below - the short version is "because it's important for the success of 
the new commercial space flight industry") then thank them for their 
time and ring off. 

EVERBODY reading this who votes in the US needs to do this - every vote 
counts, as the way to get the Senate to also pass HR 5382 in the very 
short time remaining in this Congress is for the House to pass it by an 
overwhelming margin.  As soon as we've sent this out, we're going to go 
look up the number and make the call - you do it too!

                               Background

HR 3752, which provided important regulatory support for a new 
commercial space flight industry, has widely been reported dead in the 
last day or two, and it almost was.  It has been reintroduced in the 
House of Representatives as HR 5382, it was debated today, and it should 
be up for a vote by the full House sometime in tonight's extended 
session - possibly as early as 8 pm EST, possibly well into the small 
hours of tomorrow morning. 

For more info on the history and content of HR 3752, see 
http://www.space-access.org/updates/sau105.htm.  HR 5382 is the latest 
hard-fought compromise version of HR 3752 that everyone interested had 
finally agreed on.  The current problem is largely a matter of a few who 
hadn't been following the issue closely not understanding why certain 
features of the bill are necessary for the healthy birth of the new 
industry.  A letter from the head of the House Science Committee 
summarizing the issues follows:

  Dear Colleague:

  A few minutes ago you received a letter from congressman Oberstar 
  about H.R. 5382 which will be before the house shortly.  Mr. Oberstarís 
  objection to the bill is well intentioned but reflects fundamental 
  misunderstandings about the bill.  Here are some facts: 

  The house passed earlier this year by a vote of 402 to 1 and earlier 
  version of this bill (HR 3752) that gave the Federal Aviation 
  Administration (FAA) less regulatory authority over commercial human 
  space flights than does the bill before us today. 

  The Science Committee which has primary jurisdiction over this bill 
  which was given the sole initial referral had several hearings on the 
  bill and has talked about it frequently with the press, engendering more 
  public discussion. 

  This bill concerns the commercial space flight industry, an industry 
  that is now of interest only to entrepreneurs and daredevils and should 
  not be regulated as if it were a commercial airline acting as common 
  carrier, which is basically what Mr. Oberstar is advocating. 

  The bill does give FAA unlimited authority to regulate these new 
  rockets to ensure that they do not harm anyone on the ground and to 
  ensure that the industry is learning from any failures. The bill also 
  gives FAA additional authority after 8 years by which time the industry 
  should be less experimental. 

  The Oberstar approach would be the equivalent of not letting the 
  Wright Brothers test their ideas without first convincing federal 
  officials that nothing could go wrong. 

  Without this Bill the FAA will continue to license private space 
  flights without adequate authority to protect either the safety of the 
  public or the finances of the government. 

  Please support HR 5382, just as you voted for the initial version in 
  March. Todayís bill is an equivalent of a conference report as it 
  reflects bipartisan negotiations with the Senate. 

  Sincerely,

  SHERWOOD BOEHLERT

So - again, we ask you ALL to call, tonight, and ask your Congressman to 
vote for HR 5382.  This is important.  Thanks!


                 Addendum, Saturday Afternoon, 11/20/04

                     HR 5382 Passes House - Thanks!

Things ran a bit slower than expected and the House recessed Friday 
night without voting on HR 5382.  They're back in session and voting on 
"A Motion To Suspend The Rules And Pass" 5382 right now - this looks 
like passing by a healthy but far from unanimous margin; the current 
tally is 269 for, 117 against, 47 not yet voted. 

OK, the motion got the required 2/3rds majority; the House has passed HR 
5382. 

Our thanks to everybody who called and helped out - we'll be writing 
about what comes next (presumably Senate action) as soon as we have 
details. 

PS - our website seems to be down for the moment, but we expect to have 
it back up soon, with details of next April's Space Access '05 
conference as soon as we nail them down. 
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Space Access Society's sole purpose is to promote radical reductions 
in the cost of reaching space.  You may redistribute this Update in 
any medium you choose, as long as you do it unedited in its entirety.
You may reproduce sections of this Update beyond obvious "fair use" 
quotes if you credit the source and include a pointer to our website.
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 Space Access Society 
 http://www.space-access.org 
 space.access@space-access.org 

 "Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System" 
                                        - Robert A. Heinlein