Congress Asks Questions About U.S. Policy Regarding Indian Launch Vehicles

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GSLV Launch

Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today sent letters to four senior officials requesting information about the current U.S. policy governing the export of U.S. commercial satellites for launch on Indian launch vehicles.

Today's letters, which were sent to Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren, Secretary of State John Kerry, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, follows India's recent membership into the Missile Technology Control Regime and conflicting reports as to the legal authority for promulgating the policy and administrative processes for implementing the policy.

"On October 23, 2015, a senior official at the Office of the United States Trade Representative's (USTR) international trade and development office, was quoted as stating that demand by American companies for commercial launch services had led the office to start a review of a policy that has been in place since 2005, and that the policy, implemented through export control licensing, 'discourages U.S. commercial satellite operators from purchasing launch services from Indian launch companies'" the letters state.

"Another article quoted an industry source who stated '[t]here is a real dysfunction on the government side. On the one hand, you have the policy, which no agency wants to take responsibility for but which remains the policy. On the other, government agencies are practically falling over themselves to grant waivers.' The Committee is interested in understanding this policy," the letters continue.

The letters requests a written copy of the administration's policy governing access to Indian launch services, an explanation of when and how this policy was promulgated, and a copy of licenses authorizing the launch of U.S. origin space technology on Indian launch vehicles and records associated with them.

The letter(s) can be found here.

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