Department of Commerce faces a steep learning curve

A new policy is awaiting approval of President Trump where he is slated to appoint Department of Commerce as the public face of space traffic management. Currently, this job is being handled by Department of Defense. The job profile involves answering various queries of the private and the commercial space companies, various foreign government agencies regarding the position of the satellites in orbit. Also, the different warning agencies, as well as the commercial satellite operators, also use such services. During the last several years the Pentagon had been handing over the duties to the Federal Aviation Administration. However, the Trump administration has decided to handover the job to the commerce department amidst the booming private sector company.

Although the official delegation of responsibilities have been completed but still who will do what duty is yet to be finalized. Department of Defense has vast experience concerning such activities. Similarly, SSA also knows how to go about in respect of space traffic management. But Department of Commerce has a tough task ahead of them. They need to learn a lot to execute this job smoothly. Department of Defense is supposed to hold the SSA authority and public service responsibility under section 2274 of title 10 of the US code.

As the President has signed the new policy, the House Armed Services Committee has started to cash in. However, the chairman’s remarks during the Fiscal Year of 2019 relating to the National Defense Authorization Act which is revealed on Monday involves language that shows the way for the implementation of the same.

Section 1603 of the HASC bill which is named as “Space Situational Awareness Service and information” will amend clause 2274 by “terminating the authority of the Department of Defense to provide space situational awareness data to commercial and foreign entities on Jan 1, 2024”. This particular would make the secretary of defense employ a federally funded research and development center which would help to analyze which department would assume what responsibility as mentioned in section 2274 of title 10. The secretary would also require formulating a plan to “ensure that one or more departments may provide space situational awareness services to foreign governments.”

The particular decision to hand over the job responsibility of space traffic management was revealed by Vice President Mike Pence in the previous month at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.