WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-CO) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced the Space Resources Institute Act (H.R. 1029), taking the first steps to establish an institution focused on maintaining the United States’ preeminence in space. The bill directs the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to study establishing an institute relating to space resources. At the conclusion of the study, NASA must submit to Congress a report on its findings.
In the past decade there has been growing interest in In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), or the practice of using materials found or manufactured on other astronomical objects (i.e. the moon, asteroids) to replace materials that would otherwise have been brought from Earth. Federal agencies and the private sector agree further space exploration will be supported by the extraction of materials in space, and that it could lead to more affordable and safe human spaceflight missions to the Moon and Mars. While federal agencies, academic institutions and the private sector have worked to advance research into this field, there is no central hub to support the development of foundational science and technology and options for using space resources. The goal of H.R. 1029 is to have NASA evaluate creating such a hub.
“The United States has dominated space exploration since the 1960s, and aeronautical innovation has been a bright spot in our nation’s history,” said Tipton. “While academic institutions, the private sector, and federal agencies engage in ISRU research, all parties will benefit from a central institution where research can be shared, expanded upon, and put into action. Colorado has long served as a gateway for space exploration, and I am glad Congressman Perlmutter is joining me to take the first steps towards establishing a Space Resources Institute.”
“Space exploration fuels American innovation and Americans’ desire to explore the universe,” said Perlmutter. “The study of space resources is one of the many exciting frontiers ahead for deep space exploration and ensuring coordinated research and technology development in this field will play an important role in Colorado’s aerospace economy and future space missions, including getting our astronauts to Mars by 2033.”
The Space Resources Institute Act has received support from academia, including from the Colorado School of Mines and Colorado Space Grant Consortium.
“As NASA solidifies its plans to return to the Moon and then go on to Mars, the utilization of Space Resources will play a critical enabling role,” said Dr. George Sowers, Professor of Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines. “Furthermore, bringing the resources of space within the economic sphere of Earth will spur the next great economic revolution for humankind. The creation of a Space Resources Institute within NASA ensures that the United States will maintain leadership in this critically important field.”
“The next workforce that NASA and the space industry needs is being created today at institutions of higher education. This bill would inform my efforts with students in Colorado who are collectively working on real-world and hands-on projects related to NASA’s mission through the Colorado Space Grant program. New partnerships and projects could be identified from an institute related to space resources,” said Chris Koehler, Director of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.
Colorado U.S. Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet introduced the Senate companion to H.R. 1029.