WASHINGTON D.C. – Representatives Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-07) and Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) introduced H.R. 6219, the Accessing Satellite Capabilities to Enable New Discoveries Act, or the “ASCEND Act,” a bill to permanently authorize the Commerical SmallSat Data Acquisition program within NASA.
There is an unprecedented growth of the commercial space industry, including a sharp increase in the number of privately owned and operated satellites and small satellites launched into orbit.
In 2017, NASA established a pilot program called Commercial SmallSat Data Acquisition (CSDA) to identify and evaluate commercial capabilities, establish new processes to onboard and enable broad sharing and use of acquired data products. The CSDA pilot program proved to be a success, with participating scientists’ evaluation commercial datasets as useful and reliable for a variety of research topics.
The ASCEND Act would permanently authorize CSDA within NASA to sustain and expand the program and continue to leverage the advancing capabilities in remote sensing offered by commercial vendors. These datasets have proven invaluable for scientists to study earth science research and applications, enabling in-depth analysis and fostering innovative solutions.
“The NASA Commercial SmallSat Data Acquisition program is an investment in maintaining our nation’s position as a global leader in space technology,” Kean said. “It harnesses the power of cost-effective small satellite technology, enabling seamless and swift data collection to enhance the capabilities of NASA and federal researchers. By sustaining this program, researchers gain access to timely, high-quality data crucial for advancing scientific understanding, strengthening disaster response capabilities, and driving innovation across the space commercial industry.”
“NASA’s Earth Science Division is critical to understanding our planet’s changing and interconnected systems as more precise commercial satellites launch into orbit,” Bonamici said. “I am happy to join my colleague Congressman Kean to co-lead the bipartisan ASCEND Act, which will make NASA’s successful Commercial SmallSat Data Acquisition program permanent. Increasing access to high quality Earth observation data will improve research about our planet and empower the scientific community to make the next series of groundbreaking discoveries.”
The ASCEND Act would:
- Establish CSDA as a permanent program within NASA’s Earth Science Division.
- Direct NASA to expand procurement licenses to provide federal agencies access to high quality Earth remote sensing datasets and imagery.
- Promote the acquisition of new datasets for scientific and non-scientific applications.
- Require an annual report to Congress on the uses and impact of commercial data products and licensing agreements.
Congressman Kean serves on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.