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Fact Sheet: Obama’s New White House National Space Policy June 28, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in cooperation, National Space Policy, Obama, private sector.
1 comment so far

President Obama’s new Space Policy document for the White House has just been released!

“In a world where the benefits of space permeate almost every facet of our lives, irresponsible acts in space can have damaging consequences for all of us. As such, all nations have a responsibility to act to preserve the right of all future generations to use and explore space. The United States is committed to addressing the challenges of responsible behavior in space, and commits further to a pledge of cooperation…” – National Space Policy Fact Sheet

Here’s the PDF of the full 18-page policy, and a rundown below of the fact sheet‘s bullet points with my brief commentary:

“Key Elements of the Administration’s National Space Policy

  • The United States remains committed to many long-standing tenets in space activities. The United States recognizes the rights of all nations to access, use, and explore space for peaceful purposes, and for the benefit of all humanity.

“Benefit of all humanity” is similar to language in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

  • The United States calls on all nations to share its commitment to act responsibly in space to help prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust. The United States will take steps to improve public awareness of government space activities and enable others to share in the benefits of space through conduct that emphasizes openness and transparency.

Key there is probably ‘mishaps’: disasters in space are obviously expensive, and so the risk getting out of control would be a roadblock to increased access to space (as the risk could become too great for anyone to want to undertake) and in turn, to future private industry (economic) growth.

  • The United States will engage in expanded international cooperation in space activities. The United States will pursue cooperative activities to the greatest extent practicable in areas including: space science and exploration; Earth observations, climate change research, and the sharing of environmental data; disaster mitigation and relief; and space surveillance for debris monitoring and awareness.
  • The United States is committed to a robust and competitive industrial base. In support of its critical domestic aerospace industry, the U.S. government will use commercial space products and services in fulfilling governmental needs, invest in new and advanced technologies and concepts, and use a broad array of partnerships with industry to promote innovation. The U.S. government will actively promote the purchase and use of U.S. commercial space goods and services within international cooperative agreements.

“Actively promote” the purchase of U.S. commercial services internationally. A logical, if significant step.

  • The United States recognizes the need for stability in the space environment. The United States will pursue bilateral and multilateral transparency and confidence building measures to encourage responsible actions in space, and will consider proposals and concepts for arms control measures if they are equitable, effectively verifiable, and enhance the national security of the United States and its allies. In addition, the United States will enhance its space situational awareness capabilities and will cooperate with foreign nations and industry to augment our shared awareness in space.

Arms control “if” it is “equitable, effectively verifiable” and enhances U.S. national security. That’s a big “If” :)

  • The United States will advance a bold new approach to space exploration. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will engage in a program of human and robotic exploration of the solar system, develop new and transformative technologies for more affordable human exploration beyond the Earth, seek partnerships with the private sector to enable commercial spaceflight capabilities for the transport of crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station, and begin human missions to new destinations by 2025.

The 2025 date Obama mentioned in his April speech pops up again, presumably for an asteroid mission. “New destinations”.

  • The United States remains committed to the use of space systems in support of its national and homeland security. The United States will invest in space situational awareness capabilities and launch vehicle technologies; develop the means to assure mission essential functions enabled by space; enhance our ability to identify and characterize threats; and deter, defend, and if necessary, defeat efforts to interfere with or attack U.S. or allied space systems.

Identifying threats/debris comes up repeatedly in this fact sheet; appears to be a tenet of Obama’s planned international cooperation.

  • The United States will fully utilize space systems, and the information and applications derived from those systems, to study, monitor, and support responses to global climate change and natural disasters. The United States will accelerate the development of satellites to observe and study the Earth’s environment, and conduct research programs to study the Earth’s lands, oceans, and atmosphere.

This fact sheet from the White House covers the important points from the full policy document [PDF]—I’m going to have a look at that and see what I can wean from there :)