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U.S. Space Policy

Conducting repairs on the International Space Station. (file)
Conducting repairs on the International Space Station. (file)

All space-faring nations face several critical challenges to their ability to operate safely and responsibly in space.

The United States is committed to facing the challenges that we find today where the benefits of space permeate almost every facet of our lives. The National Space Policy renews our pledge of cooperation in the belief that with strengthened international collaboration and reinvigorated U.S. leadership, all nations and peoples will find their horizons broadened, their knowledge enhanced, and their lives greatly improved.

As part of an expanded emphasis on international cooperation in space activities, the U.S. will pursue transparency and confidence-building measures as a way to help prevent mishaps, misper­ceptions, and mistrust. "Such measures," said Frank Rose, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, "are one pragmatic approach to solving foreign policy problems through partnership and shared responsibility and offer an opportunity to promote the peaceful and responsible use of space."

All space-faring nations face several critical challenges to their ability to operate safely and responsibly in space. Congestion in space is becoming an increasing problem. The United States is implementing approaches to mitigate orbital debris by promoting "best practices" for the sustainable use of space.

Another challenge is to keep track of who is using the space environment, for what purpose, and under what environmental conditions. This kind of information is critical to dealing with the dangers of increased congestion in space and collision avoidance. The U.S. national space policy calls for expanded collaboration on the dissemination of orbital tracking information, including warnings of potential collision risks. Working together with other nations to share collision warning information will have the added benefit of improving spaceflight safety for governments and the private sector.

Finally, it is important to promote responsible and peaceful behavior in space. For its part, the United States is committed to pursuing transparency and confidence-building measures that can enhance U.S. security and the security of its allies, friends, and space partners.

"Partnership," said Deputy Assistant Secretary Rose, "implies shared responsibility –- while other nations have the right to use and explore space, this right also entails responsibility. Furthermore, it cannot be the responsibility of the United States alone." Solving the challenges of orbital congestion, collision avoidance, and the free use of space for peaceful purposes are the responsibilities of all those who are engaged in space.