Summary: H.R.4399 — 100th Congress (1987-1988)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (10/14/1988)

(Measure passed Senate, amended)

Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments of 1988 - Amends the Commercial Space Launch Act to direct the Secretary of Transportation, in facilitating and encouraging private sector acquisition of U.S. surplus launch property, to take into account the availability of comparable property under reasonable terms from domestic non-Government sources.

Revises insurance requirements for persons licensed to provide launch services. Allows such persons, as an alternative to obtaining liability insurance, to demonstrate financial responsibility sufficient to compensate third-party claims arising from death, bodily injury, or loss of or damage to property resulting from licensed activities. Limits this requirement to the lesser of $500,000,000 or the maximum liability insurance available on the world market at a reasonable cost.

Sets out corresponding requirements, but at a maximum of $100,000,000, with respect to claims by the United States for loss of or damage to U.S. property.

Requires licensees to enter into reciprocal waivers with contractors, subcontractors, and customers involved in launch services, under which each party agrees to be responsible for its own damage and employee injuries. Requires the Secretary to enter into comparable waiver agreements with the same parties, as well as with licensees. Applies these waivers only to the extent claims exceed required insurance coverage. Authorizes the Secretary to waive certain Government claims with respect to losses of or damage to U.S. property for which insurance coverage is restricted by policy exclusions.

Directs the Secretary to report annually to specified congressional committees on maximum probable loss determinations for insurance coverage purposes with respect to all issued licenses.

Directs the Secretary to review insurance liability coverage requirements within six months of this Act's enactment and to submit to the Congress a proposed adjustment to conform with altered liability expectations and the worldwide availability of insurance. Mandates the same procedure on an annual basis thereafter.

Requires the Secretary to provide for the payment of successful third-party claims against parties subject to this Act to the extent such claims are not compensated by insurance, including self-insurance. Makes these payments subject to advance appropriations or specific legislative authority. Limits payments to $1,500,000,000 in excess of the required insurance amount, with respect to the claims arising out of any particular launch incident. Indexes this amount to reflect inflation in 1989 and thereafter.

Authorizes the Secretary to provide for payment without regard to limitations based on required insurance amounts, of third-party liability claims not covered because of policy exclusions.

Sets forth a framework to govern third-party liability compensation plans in cases where aggregate claims are likely to exceed the required financial responsibility amounts. Directs the Secretary to survey the causes and extent of damages in such cases and to submit the results to the Congress. Instructs the President to submit to the Congress a plan outlining the dollar value of the claims and recommending funding sources. Describes procedures and timetables applicable to congressional consideration of the plan, which must be approved by a joint resolution. Prescribes expedited procedures for any plan that requires additional appropriations or additional legislative authority. Applies compensation plan provisions only with respect to licenses for which the Secretary receives a complete application within five years following this Act's enactment.

Exempts licensees associated with certain satellites under construction on August 15, 1986, from requirements related to liability insurance coverage for claims by the United States.

Directs the Secretary to ensure that launches of payloads having a launch date commitment are not preempted from access to launch sites except in cases of imperative national need, to be determined by the Secretary of Defense or the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Prohibits delegation of this determination and directs the determining party to submit to the Congress, within seven days of the determination, a full explanation, as well as a schedule for ensuring prompt launching of the preempted payload.

Directs the Secretary to study the process for scheduling launches and to report results to the Congress.

Expresses the sense of the Congress that the United States should explore ways and means of developing a dialogue with appropriate foreign governments to produce guidelines for access to launch services by satellite builders and users to assure reasonable and fair international competition in commercial space activities.

Directs the Administrator of NASA to: (1) design a program to support research into launch systems component technologies to develop higher performance and lower costs for commercial and Government launches; and (2) report to the Congress outlining the program.