As preparation of the bill to provide Commerce Department the role of space traffic management proceed, NASA and U.S Strategic Command claimed it to be a good move.
The officials met for a joint hearing of the strategic forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee and space subcommittee of the House Science Committee on June 22 and supported the Directive 3 of the Space Policy. Announced four days ago, the directive authorizes the Commerce Department to collect safety-related space situational data for civil and commercial satellite operators.
The U.S Air Force Gen. John Hyten, head of Strategic Command, said that “transition” is beneficial as he supported the actions of the President in Space Policy Directive 3. “It’s the right move, and I commit to working with the administration, the Department of Commerce and the Congress to meet the President’s space traffic management goals.”
Alongside, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine also showed support for the plans and said it is important to NASA. He further stated that he is looking forward to working with the officials and provide assistance in implementing Space Policy Directive 2 and Directive 3 which encompass new roles of the Commerce Department.
Bridenstine and Hyten previously believed that the duty of space traffic management should be transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation. However, both were satisfied with the Space Policy Directives while Bridenstine recently said that the “right course of action” is the Commerce Department and shows full support for it.
Hyten, when asked about his earlier claim in favor of the FAA, said that it didn’t matter to him which agency handles it. “We need a city agency that is doing that role.” He further asserted that passing the responsibilities to the Commerce Department will retain resources for the Defense Department.
Transitions plans were already in place, said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. He said he wants a “seamless transition” of the space traffic management work which, according to him, may take up to a year. However, individual members in the house didn’t like the idea. A member clearly stated that he doesn’t want the Commerce Department to begin making those plans since the decisions weren’t built yet regarding the agenda.
But the House is soon to take up the legislation to implement Space Policy Directive 3. Hyten said that the Department of Defense had done an excellent job till now and “It is time that we relieve you of some of that burden.”