Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Sept. 22 released a space policy white paper entitled “Securing U.S. Leadership in Space.” What follows are excepts of the document.
America’s space program is a strategic national asset crucial to both our security and our economy. The space capabilities of the United States and its allies create strategic military and intelligence advantages that must be maintained. U.S. satellite networks facilitate communications, navigation, remote sensing, and environmental monitoring that support the global economic infrastructure and protect the safety and security of people around the world. It is almost impossible from the modern vantage point to even imagine growing the world’s food, moving its people and cargo, operating its markets, or keeping its peace without operating effectively far above its surface.
Because space is vital to our national interests and provides important benefits to science and innovation, protecting these interests and securing these benefits requires a clear and credible space policy that addresses civil, commercial, and national security activities. Just as important are the implementation and follow-through, in which policies, programs, and budgets are aligned with each other. NASA, the Department of Defense, and other agencies involved in space need to be given clear and stable priorities so that they can make pragmatic, sustainable trade-offs in managing their programs to achieve the best value for the American taxpayer.
Unfortunately, President [Barack] Obama has failed to deliver a coherent policy for human space exploration and space security. As a result, he has created uncertainty and confusion within U.S. industry and the international community.
The President’s disjointed collection of scientific projects lack guiding principles, plausible objectives, or a roadmap for long-run success. They also have left American astronauts to hitch rides into space on Russian spacecraft. America’s capabilities are eroding, and with each passing year will become more difficult to rebuild.
I will reverse this course and set a clear roadmap for space exploration. NASA will retain the intellectual capital to conduct research and to develop new generations of spacecraft for government missions that are not commercially viable, but it will promptly transition out of routine space operations in low Earth orbit as private sector capabilities mature. In improving the competitiveness of U.S. industry, government can play important supporting roles as a steady patron of R&D, an enlightened regulator, and a first buyer or anchor tenant for space goods and services. We will have a space program worthy of a great nation — one that strengthens our national security, builds peaceful engagements with other space-faring nations, and promotes the creation of a growing private sector for space commerce that will make America even stronger in the 21st century.
— Mitt Romney
Space Priorities for a Romney Administration
A strong and successful NASA does not require more funding, it needs clearer priorities. Romney will ensure that NASA has practical and sustainable missions. There will be a balance of pragmatic and top-priority science with inspirational and groundbreaking exploration programs.
Part of leadership is also engaging and working with our allies and the international community. Romney will be clear about the nation’s space objectives and will invite friends and allies to cooperate with America in achieving mutually beneficial goals.
Space-based information capabilities are the central nervous system of the U.S. national security community. If America is to remain strong as a nation, the national security space programs must remain strong and sustainable. Romney is committed to a robust national security space program and will direct the development of capabilities that defend and increase the resilience of space assets. He will also direct the development of capabilities that will deter adversaries seeking to damage or destroy the space capabilities of the U.S. and its allies.
A strong aerospace industry must be able to compete for and win business in foreign markets. Romney will work to ease trade limitations, as appropriate, on foreign sales of U.S. space goods and will work to expand access to new markets.
Embracing a Robust Role For Commercial Space
Mitt Romney recognizes the exciting opportunity that the commercial space industry offers for technological innovation and commerce. He will establish a clear framework that ensures NASA serves as a constructive partner for private sector initiatives.
- NASA will set the goals and lead the way in human space exploration, working from a clear roadmap in partnership with our allies, research institutions, and the private sector.
- NASA will look whenever possible to the private sector to provide repeatable space-based services like human and cargo transport to and from low Earth orbit. It will provide clear and timely guidance as to expected needs so the private sector can plan and invest accordingly.
- The private sector will handle commercially viable activities from satellite launches to space tourism to new businesses and industries that U.S. entrepreneurs will no doubt create if provided a friendly environment for doing so. NASA will license technology as soon as is practicable, and aim to facilitate the growth of this sector. All of these efforts will produce technologies that can be commercialized throughout our economy, spurring growth and job creation and strengthening our competitiveness.