The White House issued a memo on December 1 outlining its space policy priorities, which include dealing with escalating military threats and maintaining “a rules-centered international order for space.”
The 7-page United States Space Priorities Framework report released ahead of National Space Council’s first meeting under the Biden administration, is the new administration’s first formal stamp on the space policy, outlining proposals in a broad variety of areas but without specific actions to put them into action.
“The Framework is going to guide the Council’s efforts to define and effectively implement space policy and strategy in the future,” a White House official stated ahead of the council meeting on the condition of anonymity. “It maintains a focus on furthering and synchronizing our civil, commercial, and national security space operations, and adds focus in support of the administration’s agenda, such as promoting peaceful space exploration and lowering the threat of miscalculation or even conflict in the space; tackling the climate crisis; and boosting STEM education.”
“We are at a watershed point in history: space activities are accelerating, creating new opportunities across different sectors of society while also posing new challenges to the United States’ space leadership, the sustainability of space environment, global space governance, and safe and secure space operations,” the document explains before diving into an outline of the various advantages space offers.
After that, the document divides the administration’s space policy priorities into two groups. “Maintaining a vigorous and accountable US space enterprise” is one of them. Continued US leadership in the space exploration and science, as well as the use of space-based technologies for monitoring of climate change and teaching, are among these priorities. It also includes defending “national security interests from the rising scope and scale of the space and counterspace threats,” safeguarding space-based essential infrastructure, and maintaining laws that enable “a competitive and developing commercial space sector in the United States.”
The second set of priorities is “conserving space for present and future generations,” which covers numerous aspects of space sustainability. The statement adds, “The United States will involve the global community to uphold and enhance a rules-centered international order for space,” including existing and new measures to ensure the long-term viability of space activities. It also backed the continued development of the STM (civil space traffic management) capabilities, as well as measures to track and mitigate any potentially dangerous near-Earth objects.
The high-level document provided little information about how the administration plans to achieve those goals, but it did hint at where the administration’s priorities lie. For example, the document says that it will strive to provide clarity on how non-traditional commercial (private) space activities will be governed in order to comply with Outer Space Treaty’s requirement that space activities be “authorized and continuously supervised.”