White House Revising Space Transportation Policy

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The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama would like to unveil an updated National Space Transportation Policy within the next four or five months. But two administration officials said having a new plan in place by late summer or early fall is a goal rather than a firm deadline.

Speaking before a May 11 public meeting of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) in Washington, Damon Wells of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Chirag Parikh of the National Security Council briefly outlined the administration’s intent to solicit and review input from COMSTAC before formulating the new policy.

“A lot has changed since the [previous] policy was released in 2004,” said Parikh, citing the increase in “commercial competitors both domestic and international” and the “unprecedented success rate in launches — especially of national security payloads.”

Concerns that must be addressed include rising launch costs and market access, Parikh said.

“We will start by taking stock of new developments, challenges and opportunities,” Wells told the gathering. The administration plans to look at the existing text, to “see where you have potential gaps — things you can improve,” in collaboration with other federal agencies that have a stake in the new policy.

Parikh and Wells also stressed the importance of COMSTAC’s input. “We know you have broad expertise,” Wells told the gathering.

“We obviously understand this isn’t just a national security, commercial or civil issue — that it spans all sectors,” Parikh said. Policymakers intend to tap the “heavy industry knowledge base for actual crafting of policy,” he said.