A new law expected to pass presidential approval this week would give the private spaceflight sector exemption from a wide range of government oversight. H.R. 2262, which is receiving final approval from the House of Representatives today, would exempt private space travel from federal regulation for the next eight years. The bill would primarily benefit companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin that fear that close oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or another government agency could seriously slow innovation.
There’s a second benefit in H.R. 2262 for private space exploration firms. Alongside expanding the lifespan of the International Space Station–which has come into a rough period thanks to U.S.-Russian tensions–into the 2020s, the law would also give commercial firms the rights to resources they extract from asteroids and other space bodies. This is big news for companies like Planetary Resources, which plans to mine for rare minerals on asteroids.
Under the new bill, the FAA would still have limited oversight to regulate commercial space travel such as issuing rocket launch licenses. However, H.R. 2262 would sharply limit the FAA’s ability to regulate other areas of the private space exploration industry. Several years ago, Fast Company took a look at the fascinating world of space law.