Last May the White House started development of an updated national space transportation policy as part of a review of “sectoral” policies after the mid-2010 release of the broader National Space Policy. At the time officials said they hoped to complete the review of the policy in four to five months, but cautioned that timeline was subject to change. Ten months later, the policy has not been released—but it is coming.
Speaking at a public forum Tuesday morning organized by the Aerospace States Association (ASA), Peter Marquez, the former director for space policy at the White House who coordinated the development of the 2010 national space policy, said he understood that an initial draft of the policy was now complete and undergoing review. “It has now entered the blackout period” where the White House will no longer be seeking outside inputs, as it had during earlier stages of its development. (Marquez, who now works for Orbital Sciences, said he was speaking only for himself at the ASA event.) “The next time you hear or see of it is when it pops out of the Oval Office with the president’s signature on it.”
And when might that happen? Marquez expects that the policy will go through several rounds of reviews based on his own experience there: the 2010 policy, he said, went through four revisions. “So hopefully by—guessing—the fall timeframe, a new space transportation policy may pop out.”
Marquez also offered his best guesses as to the contents of the policy, cautioning he had no insight into the specific details it might contain. Based on the themes of the overall national space policy, he said he expects the space transportation policy to cover topics such as reliance on commercial capabilities, resilience and mission assurance, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, technology risk reduction, and international cooperation. Of those, education might seem out of place, but he said it would be tied to the need of having an educated workforce to support space transportation operations. “I would place good money on the national space transportation policy having some very directive language about STEM.”