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Tue, Nov 26, 2013

Obama Administration Announces Space Transportation Policy

Designed To 'Assure Access To Diverse Regions Of Space'

The Obama administration has announced its national Space Transportation Policy designed to assure access to diverse regions of space, from suborbital to Earth’s orbit and deep space, in support of civil and national security missions.

According to the policy document released late last week, "assured access" is defined as sufficiently robust, responsive, and resilient space transportation capabilities that are available to enable and advance civil and national security missions. The capacity to provide such access resides partly within the United States Government and, increasingly, within the U.S. private sector, which offers space transportation services and capabilities for the United States Government and commercial applications.

In support of this goal, the United States shall seek to foster and ensure the availability of domestic space transportation capabilities that are reliable, efficient, affordable, innovative, and competitive.

In particular, United States Government departments and agencies, within their authorized capacity, shall:

  • Promote and maintain a dynamic, healthy, and efficient domestic space transportation industrial base;
  • Encourage and facilitate the U.S. commercial space transportation industry to increase industry robustness and cost effectiveness, foster innovation-driven entrepreneurship and international competitiveness, and benefit the U.S. economy;
  • Conduct and promote technology research and development activities to improve the affordability, reliability, performance, safety, and responsiveness of U.S. space transportation capabilities, while increasing collaboration and coordination among departments and agencies;
  • Enable the capabilities to support human space transportation activities to and beyond low Earth orbit, including services to and from the International Space Station and the development of a deep-space-capable transportation system;
  • Foster the development of U.S. commercial spaceflight capabilities serving the emerging nongovernmental human spaceflight market.

All actions undertaken by departments and agencies in implementing this Directive shall be within the overall resource and policy guidance provided by the President, subject to the availability of appropriations, consistent with U.S. law and regulations, treaties, and other international agreements to which the United States is party, other applicable international law, U.S. national security requirements, U.S. foreign policy, and National Space Policy, and in accordance with the Presidential Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government.

The policy states that: "Maintaining an assured capability to meet United States Government needs, while also taking the necessary steps to strengthen U.S. competitiveness in the international commercial launch market, is important to ensuring that U.S. space transportation capabilities will be reliable, robust, safe, and affordable in the future.

"Among other steps, improving the cost effectiveness of U.S. space transportation services could help achieve this goal by allowing the United States Government to invest a greater share of its resources in other needs such as facilities modernization, technology advancement, scientific discovery, and national security. Further, a healthier, more competitive U.S. space transportation industry would facilitate new markets, encourage new industries, create high technology jobs, lead to greater economic growth and security, and would further the Nation’s leadership role in space."

In a statement, Boeing says it applauds "the president’s balanced approach to developing affordable commercial crew and cargo transportation in areas of proven technology, while he simultaneously accepts the challenge for the United States – as the world’s leader in space exploration – to go far beyond Earth’s orbit. We have no doubt that this policy will inspire generations of future engineers, scientists, researchers and astronauts.

“As we have for more than 50 years, Boeing supports NASA’s spaceflight endeavors, working with our customer to achieve affordable commercial crew and cargo transportation under NASA’s Commercial Crew program, as well as America’s heavy-lift rocket to beyond Earth orbit, the Space Launch System. We also help to maintain the International Space Station, the cornerstone for both low-Earth-orbit and deep-space exploration. Its unmatched lessons about the effects of long-term space habitation will prove critical to deep space exploration.”


FMI: www.whitehouse.gov, www.boeing.com

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