With all the debate about the future of NASA, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the administration has also been busy crafting its overall national space policy, taking into account commercial, civil, and national security issues. That process has been ongoing for months and appears to be nearing completion. As SpacePolicyOnline.com reports, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley said Thursday that the policy will be released in the near future, giving responses ranging from “this summer” to “in the next couple of weeks”. That timeframe is not unexpected: at the National Space Symposium in Colorado in April, one official said that he expected the policy to come out this summer.
So what will be in the policy? Donley said Thursday he expected the policy would reflect the changes in the space domain over the last couple of decades, as Earth orbit becomes more congested and even contested. Meanwhile, Laura Grego and David Wright offered their opinions on what should be in the policy in a white paper published by the Union of Concerned Scientists this week. They hope to see the Obama Administration walk back some of the changes in the 2006 policy that represented, in their view, “a more aggressive U.S. approach to space”. They expect the new policy to include language “restoring a balance among civil, military and commercial uses of space”.
Update 6:45 pm: Space News reports that the new policy could come out as soon as Monday. One of the areas of emphasis of the new policy, according to a one-page fact sheet obrained by the publication, is “to strengthen our domestic commercial space industry”; improved international cooperation is another.