Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984

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Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn Act to facilitate commercial space launches, and for other purposes.
Acronyms (colloquial)CSLA, ELVCA
NicknamesExpendable Launch Vehicle Commercialization Act
Enacted bythe 98th United States Congress
EffectiveOctober 30, 1984
Public law98-575
Statutes at Large98 Stat. 3055
Titles amended51 U.S.C.: National and Commercial Space Programs
U.S.C. sections created51 U.S.C. § 50901 et seq.
Legislative history

Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 is a United States federal law authored to facilitate the private enterprise of the commercialization of space and space technology. The Act of Congress set forth the quest to acquire innovative equipment and services offered by entrepreneurial ventures from the information technology services, remote sensing technology, and telecommunications industries. The Act recognized the United States private sector as having the capability to develop commercial launch vehicles, orbital satellites, and operate private launch sites and services. The Act also assigned the duties of overseeing and coordinating commercial launches, issuing of licenses and permits, and promotion of safety standards to the Secretary of Department of Transportation.[1]

The H.R. 3942 legislation was enacted by the 98th Congressional session and signed by the 40th President of the United States Ronald Reagan on October 30, 1984.[2]


In the 1970s, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration began to look for ways to outsource the use of its launching facilities and services to private companies such as COMSAT, RCA, and Western Union.[3] This search was due to the fact that maintaining, modifying, launching, and other duties required to launch expendable launch vehicles cost upwards of billions of dollars. Once the space shuttle became operational, NASA and the United States Air Force began using it almost exclusively. In order to accommodate the heavy weight of the space shuttle launch system, the USAF spent billions of dollars modifying one launch pad in Vandenberg Air Force Base. However, it was never used.[4] Upon realizing the economic benefits of utilizing private space companies, the House Science and Technologies Commission proposed H.R. 3942 which eventually became Public Law 98-575, or the Commercial Space Act of 1984.

Provisions of the Act[edit]

Title 51 United States Code Subtitle V and Chapter 509 was compiled as twenty-three code of law sections to vitalize commercial opportunities and space launch services for the Space programme of the United States.[5][6]

51 U.S.C. § 50901 - Findings and purposes
51 U.S.C. § 50902 - Definitions
51 U.S.C. § 50903 - General authority
51 U.S.C. § 50904 - Restrictions on launches, operations, and reentries
51 U.S.C. § 50905 - License applications and requirements
51 U.S.C. § 50906 - Experimental permits
51 U.S.C. § 50907 - Monitoring activities
51 U.S.C. § 50908 - Effective periods, and modifications, suspensions, and revocations, of licenses
51 U.S.C. § 50909 - Prohibition, suspension, and end of launches, operation of launch sites and reentry sites, and reentries
51 U.S.C. § 50910 - Preemption of scheduled launches or reentries
51 U.S.C. § 50911 - Space advertising
51 U.S.C. § 50912 - Administrative hearings and judicial review
51 U.S.C. § 50913 - Acquiring United States Government property and services
51 U.S.C. § 50914 - Liability insurance and financial responsibility requirements
51 U.S.C. § 50915 - Paying claims exceeding liability insurance and financial responsibility requirements
51 U.S.C. § 50916 - Disclosing information
51 U.S.C. § 50917 - Enforcement and penalty
51 U.S.C. § 50918 - Consultation
51 U.S.C. § 50919 - Relationship to other executive agencies, laws, and international obligations
51 U.S.C. § 50920 - User fees
51 U.S.C. § 50921 - Office of Commercial Space Transportation
51 U.S.C. § 50922 - Regulations
51 U.S.C. § 50923 - Report to Congress

Commercial Aerospace Enterprises[edit]

Orbital Sciences Corporation
Scaled Composites
Sierra Nevada Corporation
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation
United Launch Alliance
Virgin Galactic
XCOR Aerospace
Northrop Grumman Corp.

Commercial Spaceports[edit]

Clinton-Sherman Industrial Airpark
Kodiak Launch Complex
Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport
Mojave Air and Space Port
Spaceport America
SpaceX autonomous spaceport drone ship

Amendments to 1984 Act[edit]

Chronological amendments to the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984.

Date of Enactment Public Law Number U.S. Statute Citation U.S. Legislative Bill U.S. Presidential Administration
November 15, 1988 P.L. 100-657 102 Stat. 3900 H.R. 4399 Ronald W. Reagan
December 23, 2004 P.L. 108-492 118 Stat. 3974 H.R. 5382 George W. Bush

See also[edit]

Commercial Orbital Transportation Services
Commercial use of space
Office of Commercial Space Transportation
Private spaceflight
Space advertising
Timeline of private spaceflight


  1. ^ "Chapter 509 — Commercial Space Launch Activities". United States Code ~ Office of the Law Revision Counsel. U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  2. ^ Reagan, Ronald W. (October 30, 1984). "Statement on Signing the Commercial Space Launch Act - October 30, 1984". Internet Archive. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service. p. 1688.
  3. ^ McLucas, John L. Space Commerce. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1991. Page 89.
  4. ^ McLucas, John L. Space Commerce. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1991. Page 91.
  5. ^ "Enactment of Title 51 - National and Commercial Space Programs ~ P.L. 111-314" (PDF). 124 Stat. 3328 ~ House Bill 3237. U.S. Government Printing Office. December 18, 2010.
  6. ^ "H.R. 3237 ~ Charles "Pete" Conrad Astronomy Awards Act". P.L. 111-314 ~ 124 Stat. 3328. July 16, 2009.

External links[edit]