Senate Joins House in Extending FAA Learning Period For Six Months

Senate Joins House in Extending FAA Learning Period For Six Months

The Senate passed a bill today that extends certain FAA airport and airway provisions, including the so-called “learning period” during which the FAA cannot issue new passenger safety regulations for commercial human spaceflight.  The bill now goes to the President.

The bill, H.R. 3614, the Airport and Airway Extension Act, was introduced on Friday and passed the House yesterday.  No hearings or markups were held.  It passed the House under suspension of the rules.   Today it passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

Under existing law the prohibition, or moratorium, on new regulations would expire tomorrow (September 30).   Both sides of Capitol Hill have passed commercial space bills that would extend it for several years, but they have not reached agreement on a compromise.   H.R. 2262 would extend it to 2025; S. 1297 would extend it to 2020.

The House and Senate bills cover a wide variety of commercial space issues and have many differences.   The existing learning period provision is the only one with an imminent expiration date, so a quick fix was needed.  The 6-month extension will give conferees time to reach agreement on a final version of a new commercial space bill.

Under this legislation, the learning period is extended until April 1, 2016.

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