Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (03/04/2004)

Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 - (Sec. 2) States that Congress finds that: (1) the goal of opening space to the American people and to their private commercial enterprises should guide Federal space investments, policies, and regulations; (2) private industry has begun to develop commercial launch vehicles capable of carrying human beings into space; (3) greater private investment in these efforts will stimulate the commercial space transportation industry; and (4) space transportation is inherently risky.

(Sec. 3) Amends the Commercial Space Launch Act to define the following terms: (1) crew; (2) permit; (3) space flight participant; (4) suborbital rocket; and (5) suborbital trajectory. Amends the definitions of: (1) launch; (2) launch services; (3) reentry services; (4) launch vehicle; (5) reenter and reentry; and (6) third party.

Declares that regulatory authority for such transportation shall be carried out by the Secretary of Transportation (as under current law), but through the Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation.

Provides for the issuance of experimental permits (including permits for reusable suborbital rockets) allowing for an unlimited number of launches.

Directs the Secretary when issuing permits, in order to encourage the development of a commercial space flight industry and to the greatest extent practicable, to use the authority to waive, by regulation, any Federal law requirement as a requirement for a license if such requirement is not necessary to protect the public health and safety, safety of property, and U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.

Limits the Secretary's authority to issue permits for reusable suborbital rockets to those rockets that will be launched or reentered solely for: (1) research and development to test new design concepts, new equipment, or new operating techniques; (2) showing compliance with requirements as part of the process for obtaining a license; or (3) crew training before obtaining a license for a launch or reentry using the design of the rocket for which the permit would be issued.

Prohibits operating a reusable suborbital rocket under a permit for carrying any property or human being for compensation or hire.

Permits the holder of a license or a permit to: (1) launch or reenter crew only if the crew has received specified training and has satisfied specified medical standards; (2) launch or reenter a space flight participant only if the holder of the license or permit has informed the space flight participant in writing about the risks of the launch or reentry, including the safety record of the vehicle type, and the space flight participant has provided written informed consent to participation; and (3) launch and reenter crews and space flight participants only in accordance with regulations and applicable laws.

Provides for expedited procedures for the issuance of permits.

Requires crew and space flight participants to execute reciprocal waivers of claims with licensees and permitees and the Federal government. Declares that the requirement for flight participants shall expire three years after the first licensed launch of a launch vehicle carrying the space flight participant.

Makes liability indemnification program requirements inapplicable to space flight participants.

Extends from December 31, 2004, through December 31, 2007, liability insurance and financial responsibility requirements.

Authorizes appropriations through FY 2007.

(Sec. 4) Requires the Secretary of Transportation to arrange with the National Academy of Public Administration for a study to assess: (1) methods by which the liability risk sharing regime for commercial space transportation could be eliminated by 2008 (or as soon as possible thereafter); and (2) the impact those methods would be likely to have on the commercial space transportation industry.