It’s not surprising that NASA issued a statement about the national space policy on Monday, with administrator Charles Bolden noting that the agency “is pleased to be an integral part” of the new policy. But he was not the only administration official to speak out about the new policy. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates released a statement Monday indicating his full support for the policy. He said the DOD will work with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to develop “a strategy document to address specific national security requirements for outer space.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also issued a statement, calling the policy “a strong statement of our principles and goals regarding U.S. national interests and activities in space.” The State Department, she said, “will expand our work in the United Nations and with other organizations to address the growing problem of orbital debris and to promote ‘best practices’ for its sustainable use,” among other areas. And in a brief statement, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke praised the commercial elements of the policy. “It recognizes the sea changes occurring in the space community, with federal budgets tightening at the same time that commercial space capabilities and markets are gaining momentum,” he said
The new policy got some third-party endorsements as well. The Aerospace Industries Association said that the policy “takes important steps needed to maintain our global leadership in space and ensure continued competitiveness and innovation”. The AIA noted its strong support of international cooperation provisions in the policy and its goal of strengthening US leadership in space. The Union of Concerned Scientists, in a statement apparently prepared and released just before the policy’s release Monday, supported the policy’s shift in language back to policies from the Clinton and earlier administrations. And the Secure World Foundation “salutes” the new policy, calling it “a highly pragmatic approach to the international space regime that substantially enhances the long-term national security interests of the United States in space.”
The Space Foundation, though, had a mixed assessment of the policy. On one hand it supports elements of the policy ranging from improved space situational awareness to the “recognition” of space nuclear power in the policy (although the previous policy also had a section on that subject). However, it’s concerned that the new push for international cooperation will exclude India and China. It also claims that the policy statements on developing and retaining space professionals “ring hollow” given “plans for NASA continue to put thousands of American space professionals out of work”.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), meanwhile, “blasts” the policy in a statement late Monday. “The Administration is yet again trying to sell this country a failed space policy that irrevocably diminishes our central role in space exploration,” he said, citing plans to make the US “more dependent” on Russia and other nations as well as plans for “dismantling a proven and effective space program that has propelled our nation to tremendous heights.” Sen. Hatch concluded: “I urge the President to rethink this flawed policy, because while this might be a new direction for manned space flight, it’s a direction we don’t want to take.”