December 29, 2020
SOME NEW ASPECTS OF THE 2020 U.S. NATIONAL SPACE POLICY
On December 9, 2020, the White House issued a new National Space Policy that supersedes the 2010 version. Before the release of a full national space policy, the current Administration had provided direction regarding different space issues through other instruments such as Space Policy Directives.
The new policy touches on similar topics as past official space policies, building on the overall vision of the United States in space matters throughout the years. For example, like the space policy released in 2010 by the past Administration, the 2020 space policy stresses the need for international cooperation and support for commercial capabilities. However, the 2020 policy seeks to codify some new concepts.
- • Cybersecurity for space systems. The new space policy dedicates a section to cybersecurity, enshrining into long-term policy the same principles stipulated in Space Policy Directive-5 (SPD-5) – Cybersecurity Principles for Space Systems, released earlier this year. The new space policy also mentions cybersecurity in various other sections of the document. For example, under the guideline to strengthen and secure the United States space industrial base, the policy says to “incorporate cybersecurity principles across all phases of systems design, development, acquisition, and deployment.”
- • National Space Council. Another aspect that is different about this policy is that it seeks to cement the role of the National Space Council (which was revived in 2017 after being dormant since 1993) by highlighting the organism’s role as a convener of industry and government representatives. Moreover, the policy mentions the National Space Council as one of the organisms that should be involved in answering novel questions such as how to license and oversee activities that fall beyond the scope of existing authorization and supervision processes.
- • Space situational awareness (SSA) in deep space. One important element is that, though briefly, the policy gives direction to extend SSA to deep space. Right now, the effort to develop robust SSA is focused on low Earth orbit; however, as activities proliferate into other regions of space, the environment in those other regions must be proactively addressed to ensure sustainability.
- • Resource utilization. The new policy enumerates as a principle the pursuit of the extraction and utilization of space resources, highlighting that in-situ material is critical for the sustainable exploration of deep space. The same idea was discussed earlier this year in the Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources.
For further information on this topic or other Coalition for Deep Space Exploration policy briefs,
please contact: Jamil Castillo – Manager, Space Policy
Coalition for Deep Space Exploration