This article summarizes the U.S. space policy priorities from the document titled “United States Space Priorities Framework.” The document was published December 2021.
U.S. Space Policy Priorities
Maintaining a Robust and Responsible U.S. Space Enterprise
Reaping the current and future benefits of space requires that the United States maintain a vibrant space enterprise across the civil, commercial, and national security sectors.
The United States will maintain its leadership in space exploration and space science. The United States will remain a global leader in science and engineering by pioneering space research and technology that propels exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond. U.S. human and robotic space exploration missions will land the first woman and person of color on the Moon, advance a robust cislunar ecosystem, continue to leverage human presence in low-Earth orbit to enable people to live and work safely in space, and prepare for future missions to Mars and beyond. Scientific missions will investigate the origins of our universe and enhance understanding of the Earth, the Sun, and our solar system. The United States will continue to conduct these missions in a manner that furthers decades-long cooperation with established spacefaring nations and engages emerging spacefaring nations in new partnerships. Additionally, the United States will continue to leverage civil space activities to foster new commercial space services such as human space transportation and space stations in low Earth orbit.
The United States will advance the development and use of space-based Earth observation capabilities that support action on climate change.
The United States will foster a policy and regulatory environment that enables a competitive and burgeoning U.S. commercial space sector.
The United States will protect space-related critical infrastructure and strengthen the security of the U.S. space industrial base. Space systems are an essential component of U.S. critical infrastructure – by directly providing important services and by enabling other critical infrastructure sectors and industries. The United States will enhance the security and resilience of space systems that provide or support U.S. critical infrastructure from malicious activities and natural hazards. In particular, the United States will work with the commercial space industry and other non-governmental space developers and operators to improve the cybersecurity of space systems, ensure efficient spectrum access, and strengthen the resilience of supply chains across the nation’s space industrial base. Furthermore, the United States will enhance the protection of terrestrial critical infrastructure from space weather events, which can disrupt services such as electric power, telecommunications, water supply, health care, and transportation.
The United States will defend its national security interests from the growing scope and scale of space and counterspace threats. Intensifying strategic competition presents a serious threat to U.S. national security interests, including in space. The military doctrines of competitor nations identify space as critical to modern warfare and view the use of counterspace capabilities as a means both to reduce U.S. military effectiveness and to win future wars. Confrontation or conflict, however, is not inevitable. To deter aggression against U.S., allied, and partner interests in a manner that contributes to strategic stability, the United States will accelerate its transition to a more resilient national security space posture and strengthen its ability to detect and attribute hostile acts in space. The United States also will take steps to protect its military forces from space-enabled threats. As part of bolstering space mission assurance, the United States will leverage new commercial space capabilities and services to meet national security requirements and will deepen the integration of U.S. national security space capabilities and activities with those of our allies and partners. The United States also will engage diplomatically with strategic competitors in order to enhance stability in outer space. Finally, U.S. national security space operations will continue to comply with applicable international law and demonstrate leadership in both the responsible use of space and stewardship of the space environment.
The United States will invest in the next generation. Investing in STEM education is critical to continuing U.S. leadership into the next generation and preparing the nation’s STEM workforce to fuel the economy of the future.
Preserving Space for Current and Future Generations
As space activities evolve, the norms, rules, and principles that guide outer space activities also must evolve. The United States will lead in the responsible, peaceful, and sustainable exploration and use of outer space.
The United States will lead in strengthening global governance of space activities. The United States will engage the international community to uphold and strengthen a rules-based international order for space. The United States, working with commercial industry, allies, and partners, will promote the implementation of existing measures and lead in the development of new measures that contribute to the safety, stability, security, and long-term sustainability of space activities. The United States will demonstrate how space activities can be conducted in a responsible, peaceful, and sustainable manner.
The United States will bolster space situational awareness sharing and space traffic coordination. The United States will continue to share space situational awareness information and provide basic spaceflight safety services to all space operators. These services will be transferred to an open data platform, hosted by a U.S. civil agency, that leverages data and services provided from a variety of government, commercial, academic, and international sources. Working with industry and international partners, the United States will lead in the development and implementation of open, transparent, and credible international standards, policies, and practices that establish the foundation for global space traffic coordination.
The United States will prioritize space sustainability and planetary protection. The United States will work with other nations to minimize the impact of space activities on the outer space environment, including avoiding harmful contamination of other planetary bodies. The United States will increase efforts to mitigate, track, and remediate space debris. The United States will advance development and implementation of domestic and international best practices to mitigate the creation of space debris and will support efforts to evolve those practices to ensure continued safety of flight operations in the future. The United States also will continue to protect the Earth’s biosphere by avoiding biological contamination by spacecraft returning to Earth. The United States will lead, in cooperation with commercial industry and international allies and partners, in efforts to enhance warning of and mitigation against potential near-Earth object impacts.