Today, President Obama announced the administration’s new National Space Policy. The National Space Policy expresses the President’s direction for the Nation’s space activities. The policy articulates the President’s commitment to reinvigorating U.S. leadership in space for the purposes of maintaining space as a stable and productive environment for the peaceful use of all nations.
Leading Collaborative, Responsible, and Constructive Use of Space
The space age began as a race for security and prestige between two superpowers. The decades that followed have seen a radical transformation in the way we live our daily lives, in large part due to our use of space. The growth and evolution of the global economy have ushered in an ever-increasing number of nations and organizations using space to observe and study our Earth, create new markets and new technologies, support operational responses to natural disasters, enable global communications and international finance, enhance security, and expand our frontiers. The impacts of our utilization of space systems are ubiquitous, and contribute to increased transparency and stability among nations.
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, in the belief that with strengthened international cooperation and reinvigorated U.S. leadership, all nations will find their horizons broadened, their knowledge enhanced, and their lives greatly improved.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.