President Trump has signed and enacted Space Policy Directive-2, a plan for modernizing the regulatory climate for companies involved in private space exploration and commerce, including rocket launches and satellite placements.
The policy, announced in a presidential memorandum on Thursday, consists of recommendations made in February by the National Space Council at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“This directive will encourage American leadership in space commerce by creating more certainty for investors and private industry, while focusing on protecting our national security and public safety,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a statement.
As “a sign of our administration’s commitment to America leading in space again,” President Trump will host the next National Space Council meeting at the White House on June 18, he added.
“Unfortunately, our system for regulating private space exploration and commerce has not kept up with this rapidly changing industry,” Pence said. “For example, when it comes to licensing cameras in space, we review small, high-school science project satellites the same as billion-dollar national defense assets, leaving too little time and too few resources for crucial national security needs.”
Secretary of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in an opinion piece published by the New York Times on Friday, boasted that, “a moon colony will be a reality sooner than you think.”
The Space Policy Directive 2, among other changes, creates a new office, the Space Policy Advancing Commercial Enterprise Administration, within the Commerce Department to oversee coordination of commercial space activities, establishing a “one-stop shop” to work on behalf of the budding private space sector.
“This will be a major change,” Ross wrote. “At my department alone, there are six bureaus involved in the space industry. A unified departmental office for business needs will enable better coordination of space-related activities.”
To this end, he has directed all Commerce Department bureaus with space responsibilities to assign a liaison to the new Space Administration team, including the International Trade Administration, Bureau of Industry and Security, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
According to the President’s newly signed order, no later than Feb. 1, 2019, the Secretary of Transportation will review regulations that provide for and govern licensing of commercial space flight launch and re-entry.
The Secretary of Transportation is instructed to consider requiring a single license for all types of commercial space flight launch and re-entry operations and replacing prescriptive requirements in the commercial space flight launch and re-entry licensing process with performance-based criteria.
The Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration were ordered to coordinate to examine all existing U.S. government requirements, standards, and policies associated with commercial space flight launch and re-entry operations from Federal launch ranges and, as appropriate, minimize those requirements, except those needed to protect public safety and national security.
The Commerce Department, in addition to in-house reviews and coordination, was also ordered to work with the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that federal government activities related to radio frequency spectrum are compatible with “improving the global competitiveness of the United States space sector through radio frequency spectrum policies.”
The National Space Council is tasked with initiating a review of export licensing regulations affecting commercial space flight activity.