Opinion Paper: Clarity for the Space Economy (AIAA 2023)


The document is a draft opinion paper by the AIAA Cislunar Ecosystem Task Force, titled “Clarity for the Space Economy”. The paper discusses the importance of focused government investment in the space economy and the role of the U.S. government in economic development. The task force aims to extend human economic activity into deep space by establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon.

The paper highlights the need for annual investments in the hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five to seven years to design, construct, deploy, and operate space-qualified infrastructure for the cislunar ecosystem. This ecosystem will comprise sustainable operating interdependent systems that support long-duration, always-available service platforms. It will primarily be privately funded as commercially oriented extensions of current Earth-bound economic infrastructure.

The task force identifies the main challenge as creating the conditions necessary to extend the private sector’s interest and investment in the cislunar ecosystem at scale and in the near term. To address this challenge, the task force proposes Project Clarity, a set of concrete steps to clarify the inclusion of space in national economic development initiatives. Project Clarity focuses on existing traditional economic development programs across government departments and agencies and their potential applicability to space-related infrastructure without requiring new funding initiatives, additional legislative action, or jeopardizing existing program budgets.

Some suggested actions for Project Clarity include:

  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) publishing clarifying guidance for federal departments and agencies regarding the applicability and flexibility of economic development programs to support commercial space economic development.
  • The independent Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) issuing guidance affirming the eligibility of space activity for economic development programs.
  • The Congressional Research Service (CRS) prioritizing analysis of space infrastructure projects and their fit in current federal and state economic policies and programs, without additional funding or authorization.

The AIAA Cislunar Ecosystem Task Force plans to continue convening space economic policy leaders and experts to discuss the applicability of U.S. government economic development programs to commercial space development and provide guidance on the implementation of Project Clarity.

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