The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee voted on July 27 to approve the ORBITS Act of 2023, and the American Cybersecurity Literacy Act.

The ORBITS Act was reintroduced in the Senate in February, and would undertake a first-of-its-kind demonstration program to reduce the nearly one million pieces of space junk in orbit.

The program would focus on research, development, and demonstration of technologies capable of safely carrying out successful Active Debris Remediation missions, and jumpstarting a new market for these services.

Orbital debris poses a growing threat to human space exploration, scientific research missions, and emerging commercial space services. Recent estimates say there are approximately 8,000 metric tons of debris currently in orbit, including about 900,000 individual pieces of debris that are potentially lethal to satellites.

The bill was introduced in February by Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., and is cosponsored by Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

The American Cybersecurity Literacy Act – introduced in June by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Thune, R-S.D. – would instruct the Commerce Department to develop and conduct a cybersecurity literacy campaign in the United States, employing multiple languages and formats, “to increase the knowledge and awareness of citizens of the United States of best practices to reduce cybersecurity risks.”

The Commerce Department would develop the campaign in consultation with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.