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US space launch capability at critical juncture

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Aerospace Industries Association (AIA)
: 03 December, 2009  (Company News)
AIA Space Systems expert addresses Government on the decrease in commercial space launches occurring at American facilities
The US commercial space launch industry is at a critical juncture with increasing competition from abroad, AIA Vice President of Space Systems J P Stevens said in testimony Wednesday.

“As space launch capabilities have been developed by other nations, the US share of commercial launches has decreased significantly,” Stevens said before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation. “In 2008 only six of the 28 worldwide commercial launches were conducted by US companies.”

Government indemnification of commercial space launches against third-party liability expires the end of December. The current indemnification regime imposes no additional costs on US taxpayers and requires Congressional approval for any payment. The House has voted to extend government indemnification to the end of 2012.

“Every other nation with commercial space launch capabilities provides some form of government indemnification against third-party liability,” said Stevens.

“Indemnification expires in 29 days; we definitely need the Senate to act before the end of the year.”

Stevens praised FAA’s oversight of the commercial launch industry, particularly the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee.

“The Aerospace industry has found both the committee and its annual conference to be excellent venues for sharing information and expressing concerns,” Stevens said.
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