19:00 PM

Space Export Control Reform Passes House and Senate

Legislation reforming space-related export control has passed the House and the Senate and is expected to be signed by the President. The legislation is included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, under Sec. 1261, Removal of Satellites and Related Items from the United States Munitions List (USML). The legislation contains restrictions, including prohibitions specific to China, North Korea, and any country that is a state sponsor of terrorism.

The passage of this legislation is significant and brings with it the promise that U.S. universities will be better supported in their mission to prepare the workforce needed to design and deploy the space systems of the future and enable the U.S. to remain a leader in space. Current law had resulted in unintended, adverse impact on U.S. universities, from classroom teaching to student-built CubeSats. Dr. Frederick Tarantino, USRA President, said, "This new legislation strengthens U.S. national security and helps restore the crucial role of university research and education."

The legislation is consistent with the recommendation by the Departments of Defense and State, which, in consultation with the Department of Commerce and intelligence community, concluded in the Section 1248 Report that "Current law forces the U.S. government to continue to protect commonly available satellites and related items on the USML, thus impeding the U.S. ability to work with partners and putting U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage, but providing no noticeable benefit to national security."

This action by the Congress follows years of effort by USRA's 105-member-university Council of Institutions to inform members of Congress and Administration officials on how appropriate reform will strengthen our national security, better enable U.S. research innovation, and support U.S. workforce development.

USRA joined with industry, including the Satellite Industry Association and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, in strongly endorsing the Safeguarding United States Satellite Leadership and Security Act of 2012, sponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (CO). USRA also worked with the American Association of Universities (AAU) in bringing to the attention of the Congress and the Administration the chilling effect of current space export control on U.S. universities and U.S. students and the critical need for reform.

Professor Scott Pace, a USRA Trustee and Director of the Space Policy Institute of The George Washington University, said, "This is a long overdue change that restores accountability to the Executive Branch while maintaining Congressional oversight. Both sides of the aisle are to be congratulated for this successful outcome."

The Universities Space Research Association was established in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. USRA is a private, nonprofit consortium of 105 universities offering advanced degrees in space and aeronautics related disciplines. USRA's mission is to conduct leading-edge research, develop innovative technologies, promote education and policy, and operate premier science and technology facilities by involving universities, private industry, and government.