WASHINGTON — The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy quietly released a new national space policy late Oct. 6 that was approved by U.S. President George Bush August 31.

The policy enunciates eight primary principles, saying the United States:

  • Is committed to the exploration and use of outer space by all nations for peaceful purposes, and for the benefit of all humanity;
  • “Rejects any claims to sovereignty by any nation over outer space or celestial bodies, or any portion thereof, and rejects any limitations on the fundamental right of the United States to operate in and acquire data from space;”
  • “Will seek to cooperate with other nations in the peaceful use of outer space to extend the benefits of space, enhance space exploration, and to protect and promote freedom around the world;”
  • “Considers space systems to have the rights of passage through and operations in space without interference;”
  • “Considers space capabilities — including the ground and space segments and supporting links — vital to its national interests.” To safeguard them, the United States will, “dissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intended to do so; take those actions necessary to protect its space capabilities; respond to interference; and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests.”
  • “Will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space.
  • “Is committed to encouraging and facilitating a growing and entrepreneurial U.S. commercial space sector.

Major areas of emphasis that were only touched on by previous presidential space directives include: the development of space professionals, space acquisition reform, the space industrial base, space situational awareness, intelligence collection, space protection, and interagency collaboration.

New subjects include: homeland security, spectrum access and protection and the space sensitive technology list.

The policy calls for improved space system acquisition and development, saying that the primary goal of building such systems “must be mission success.”

In what appears to be a reference to recent friction between the U.S. Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office, builder of the nation’s classified satellites, the policy calls on the military and intelligence community to “increase and strengthen interagency partnerships.”

A copy of the policy can be found at www.ostp.gov.