The Space Act of 2015 has passed in the Senate. If the bill passes in the House — it’s expected to — and is signed into law by Obama, it could mean big things for the private space industry.

Sarah Fecht via Popular Science:

After much delay, an important space bill has finally passed in the Senate.

The Space Act of 2015 would do a lot of things to encourage the private space industry–including extending the “learning period” wherein fledgling spaceflight companies can operate without too much government oversight. It would also give companies the rights to the resources they might one day extract from asteroids, such as platinum and water (which, believe it or not, is a valuable resource in space).

The bill has just passed in the Senate with unanimous approval and a few amendments. Now it will be sent back to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve the changes, and then on to President Obama.

Although the bill hasn’t officially been signed into law yet, Planetary Resources–one such company that hopes to extract resources from asteroids–issued an effusive letterthanking the Congressmen who supported the bill.

“Many years from now, we will view this pivotal moment in time as a major step toward humanity becoming a multi-planetary species,” said Planetary Resources Co-Chairman Eric Anderson in the press release. “This legislation establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history, and it will foster the sustained development of space.”

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