What to know about the Space Commission bill

On March 3, 2023, state Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, filed legislation creating the first Texas Space Commission. We earlier reported that Texas lawmakers included $350 million in their base budgets for the Texas Space Commission. Now that House Bill 3447 has been filed, we have some indications of how those space dollars may be spent.

Breaking Down HB 3447

HB 3447 creates two entities: The Texas Space Commission and the Aerospace Research and Space Economy Consortium. Each of these entities has its own board of directors or executive committee and will serve different functions.

The Texas Space Commission, governed by a nine-member board, has the authority for the following activities:

  • Providing financial services to facilitate aerospace development and infrastructure activities in the state of Texas.
  • Managing and executing intergovernmental agreements with local and federal entities as well as nonprofit and higher education organizations.
  • Working with the Aerospace and Space Economy Consortium to plan and implement educational opportunities in the state of Texas.
  • Strategic planning that includes developing a list of projects in the state that furthers the commission’s goal of promoting space-related economic development.
  • Making grants to eligible institutions from the Space Exploration and Aeronautics Research Fund

This last item — the Space Exploration and Aeronautics Research Fund — will be funded by gifts, grants, and donations to the commission, as well as any funding designated by the Texas Legislature. Grants from the fund to business, governmental and nonprofit entities are designed to support emerging space technologies, space-related research, space exploration and spaceflight workforce training, as well as the study of samples and materials collected from space exploration activities.

Aerospace and Space Economy Consortium

Separately, HB 3447 creates the Aerospace and Space Economy Consortium. A nine-member executive committee that includes representatives from major university systems in the state would govern the consortium.

According to the bill, the consortium membership will consist of higher education institutions in Texas and will primarily serve to identify opportunities for research that promote development and commercial space activity in the state. The consortium will also make recommendations to the commission about the use of space-related funds and will be responsible for developing a strategic plan.

Here’s a simple visual breakdown of HB 3447:

In the meantime, stay tuned for more developments on all things space in the Lone Star State.