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Title 51 of the United States Code (51 U.S.C.), entitled National and Commercial Space Programs, is the compilation of the general laws regarding space programs. It was promulgated by U.S. President Barack Obama on December 18, 2010 when he signed PL 111-314 (H.R. 3237) into law.
Since the 1940s, many statutes have been enacted relating to national and commercial space programs. In the U.S. Code, some of these statutes are codified in Title 15, Commerce and Trade, Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare and Title 49, Transportation. No single title had previously existed in the U.S. Code for space programs, as the Code was established in 1926, before the Space Age.
Title 51 does not modify or repeal existing programs. Rather, it restates existing law in a manner that adheres to the policy, intent and purpose of the original laws, whilst improving the organizational structure of the law and removing imperfections.
H.R. 3237 was introduced on July 16, 2009, and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives. The Committee considered the bill in full committee mark-up on October 21, 2009, and ordered the bill to be reported. The bill was reported by the Committee on November 2, 2009, and passed by the House of Representatives on January 13, 2010. On January 20, 2010, the bill was received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Committee considered the bill in full committee mark-up on May 6, 2010, and on May 10 it was reported by the Committee without amendment. The bill passed in the Senate by unanimous consent on December 3, and was signed into law by President Obama on December 18.