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U.S. Space Policy: Private Sector is Crucial

A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket with the Israeli-owned Amos 17 commercial communications satellite lifts off from space launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The United States considers the private sector a vital partner in executing its National Space Strategy.

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The United States considers the private sector a vital partner in executing its National Space Strategy. That is why, last year, President Donald Trump signed a Space Policy Directive ordering agencies to streamline regulations for commercial space flights. It’s also why NASA opened the International Space Station to new commercial opportunities in June.

“We’re opening the doors for private space enterprise to develop the means and technology for low-Earth orbit,” said Vice President Mike Pence, who is Chair of the National Space Council. “We promulgated a long range of reforms to invigorate the commercial space sector across this country and across the world.”

Scott Pace is Executive Secretary of the National Space Council. “Private industry is absolutely crucial,” he said, noting that many of the innovations in navigation, communications and launch technology are being driven and funded by the private sector:

“Today we deliver cargo to the International Space Station with a commercial service. We don't have a government rocket that goes up to the space station carrying cargo. We have a commercial service that we buy from. We're currently working to expand that to send crew up to the space station. So actually buying a ticket for astronauts to simply go to the space station. Because this is the capability that the private sector has the ability to do and there's really no reason for the government to duplicate something the private sector does.”

In the future, said Executive Secretary Pace, the private sector will provide utility functions like communications and power:

“We're looking at finding those areas where the government has to be in the lead because there is really no commercial or economic incentive …

So the government is going to have a leading role in exploration because exploration, almost by definition, doesn't really make any economic sense. But in doing that exploration, we want to pull on the private sector as much as possible so that government does what it does best. And the private sector is allowed the opportunity to do what it does best, which is innovate, control costs, compete, and provide services that we can rely upon.”

“The United States of America,” said Vice President Pence, “Is open for business to all space enterprises."