Space, the Obama Way

Whit House issues National Space Policy for future, NASA key

nasa space
The White House this week issued a National Space Policy, a document that emphasizes the Obama administration's desire to further commercialize space but also to ensure that the US and international partners have unfettered access to outer space. 

The policy reflects and expands upon what the White House has been espousing about space and its own space agency, NASA,  since late 2009. 

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"We are proposing improved observation of the earth, to gain new insights into our environment and our planet. We set ambitious goals for NASA: ramping up robotic and human space exploration, with our sights set on Mars and beyond, to improve the capacity of human beings to learn and work safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time, " President Obama said in a written White House statement. 

According to the National Policy: " The legacy of success in space and its transformation also presents new challenges. When the space age began, the opportunities to use space were limited to only a few nations, and there were limited consequences for irresponsible or unintentional behavior. Now, we find ourselves in a world where the benefits of space permeate almost every facet of our lives. The growth and evolution of the global  economy has ushered in an ever-increasing number of nations and organizations using space. The now ubiquitous and interconnected nature of space capabilities and the world's growing dependence on them mean that irresponsible acts in space can have damaging consequences for all of us. For example, decades of space activity have littered Earth's orbit with debris; and as the world's space-faring nations continue to increase activities in space, the chance for a collision increases correspondingly." 

The policy goes onto define key US goals in future space development:  

  • Energize competitive domestic industries to participate in global markets and advance the development of: satellite manufacturing; satellite-based services; space launch; terrestrial applications; and increased entrepreneurship. 
  • Expand international cooperation on mutually beneficial space activities to: broaden and extend the benefits of space; further the peaceful use of space; and enhance collection and partnership in sharing of space-derived information.
  • Strengthen stability in space through: domestic and international measures to promote safe and responsible operations in space; improved information collection and sharing for space object collision avoidance; protection of critical space systems and supporting infrastructures, with special attention to the critical interdependence of space and information systems; and strengthening measures to mitigate orbital debris. 
  • Increase assurance and resilience of mission-essential functions enabled by commercial, civil, scientific, and national security spacecraft and supporting infrastructure against disruption, degradation, and destruction, whether from environmental, mechanical, electronic or hostile causes. 
  • Pursue human and robotic initiatives to develop innovative technologies, foster new industries, strengthen international partnerships, inspire our Nation and the world, increase humanity's understanding of the Earth, enhance scientific discovery and explore our solar system and the universe beyond. 
  • Improve space-based Earth and solar observation capabilities needed to conduct science, forecast terrestrial and near-Earth space weather, monitor climate and global change, manage natural resources and support disaster response and recovery. 
  • Maintain and Enhance Space-based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Systems. The United States must maintain its leadership in the service, provision, and use of global navigation satellite systems
  • Federal departments and agencies, in cooperation with industry and academia, shall establish standards, seek to create opportunities for the current space workforce, and implement measures to develop, maintain, and retain skilled space professionals, including engineering and scientific personnel and experienced space system developers and operators, in government and commercial workforces. 

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8   

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