Space Policy update

Changes in Space policies has created a whisper in the whole space industry. The initiatives by the administration are closely monitored by everyone who commercially thinks of space. Jim Bridenstine on June 12, while addressing Space Transport Association stated that there is a need of an increase in commercial space activities.  In response to the two space policies signed by president Donald Trump, he quoted that “I think a lot of people might believe that it’s this massive transformational change. In some ways it is, and in other ways, it’s not.”

The first point in the policy is that NASA should return humans to the moon, which would serve as the stepping stone for the final journey to Mars. SPD1 – Space Policy Directive 1- is about developing the lunar orbital platform gateway so that payloads can be sent using lunar landers to the moon. The mission has been named Exploration Campaign. 

President Obama in 2010 agreed to this return to moon campaign considering it a sustainable model for commercialising space. His words read as “Our objective is to make sure that, over the long term, we’re going to have a human presence at the moon. We want a sustainable, long-term presence at the moon. And a gateway is essential for that. A lot of folks may not understand how important the Gateway is to this architecture.” Obama clearly stated that the gateway which would serve as the outpost for lunar exploration and other space missions is a long-term requirement.

The second directive addresses reforms in regulating commercial space industry, though not directly. Be it a license for launching a space vehicle or purchasing of equipment, a central supporting unit is required. An excellent regulatory environment not only decreases the cost but also increases the access.

Non-traditional activities in space on a commercial level are still not licensed. There is a need for an authority to supervise lower earth orbits. However, it has not been discussed that whom should this responsibility be assigned to since there is a particular debate on the issue between the House and the Senate.

Bridenstine has indicated another directive which has not been discussed yet but may be announced in the meeting to be held in June. It would be too early to say anything about the third directive, but it may be about space traffic management, a speech by Vice President Mike Pence during the 34th Space Symposium shows this possibility.