Obama rockets to space with new policy

Administration releases National Space Policy

The Obama administration has released a new policy for space exploration that calls for maintaining and enhancing space-based positioning, navigation, and timing systems, and protecting access to the radiofrequency spectrum.

The National Space Policy for the United States of America lays out high-level goals for the national space program. The administration wants to give a boost to competitive domestic industries that work with satellites and U.S. space launches, expand international cooperation, pursue initiatives that will lead to innovative technologies and improve abilities to observe the earth and sun from space.

The policy also says that the United States shall provide continuous worldwide access, for peaceful purposes, to the Global Positioning System and engage with non-U.S. global navigation systems providers to encourage compatibility and interoperability.

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According to the policy, NASA will be expected to:

  • Set far-reaching milestones and begin crewed missions beyond the moon by 2025 and by the mid-2030s send humans to orbit Mars and safely back to Earth;
  • Continue working with international partners on the International Space Station to 2020 or beyond;
  • Put in place a space technology development and test program;
  • Do research and development on next-generation launch systems such as new U.S.rocket engine technologies;
  • Maintain a sustained robotic presence in the solar system and;
  • Work with other agencies to enhance the U.S. global climate change research and monitoring.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will:

  • Transition mature research and development observation satellites into long-term operations;.
  • Harness international partnerships to sustain weather, climate, ocean observation from space.

NASA, NOAA, and the head of the U.S. Geological Survey should ensure that civilian agencies’ efforts aren’t unnecessarily duplicated.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department and the Director of National Intelligence will be required to:

  • Reinvigorate U.S. leadership by promoting technology development, improving industrial capacity;
  • Develop and apply advanced technologies and capabilities that respond to changes to the threat environment.

In a statement, President Barack Obama said space-based technology is central to national security because it allows for the U.S. to communicate more effectively, operate with greater precision, and better protect people in military service. He also said the U.S. is no longer racing against an adversary in space and one of the central goals of the policy is to promote peaceful cooperation in space.

“In addition, this policy recognizes that as our reliance on satellites and other space-based technologies increases, so too does our responsibility to address challenges such as debris and other hazards,” Obama said. “No longer is space just a destination to reach; it is a place where we must be able to work in ways that are responsible, sustainable, and safe.”


About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.


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