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Locke Lauds New National Space Policy as Pro Business


Monday, June 28, 2010



Presidential directive prioritizes space commerce, environmental obserevations and international cooperation

President Obama’s new National Space Policy sets goals and guidelines for American space activities and promotes a robust and competitive U.S. commercial space sector, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said today.  The policy also puts increased emphasis on space-based environmental observations and international cooperation, both critical functions of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The policy, released today, is the Obama administration’s first comprehensive policy guiding our endeavors in space. It addresses commercial space by directing government agencies to encourage and facilitate the growth of a U.S. commercial space sector through increased U.S. purchases of commercial space goods, reducing the regulatory impact on the space industry and actively promoting the export of U.S. space products.

“Space is a key driver of the 21st century American economy,” Locke said. “This policy is about energizing competitive domestic industries through innovation, entrepreneurship and technological leadership in space. It recognizes the sea changes occurring in the space community, with federal budgets tightening at the same time that commercial space capabilities and markets are gaining momentum.”

According to The Space Report 2010 published by the independent Space Foundation, global space industry revenues reached $261.6 billion in 2009, with commercial services and infrastructure accounting for two-thirds of that total ($174.29 billion).  The report cites data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicating that nearly 263,000 Americans worked in the space industry in 2008.

Under the new policy, the government will promote private sector space activities that create economic growth and reduce government spending.  Among other things, the National Space Policy directs agencies to:

  • Provide incentives for innovation and entrepreneurship, such as competitive prizes;
  • Facilitate new market opportunities for U.S. commercial space firms;
  • Purchase and use commercial space capabilities and services to the maximum practical extent;
  • Explore non-traditional commercial arrangements such as data purchases and commercially hosted payloads; and
  • Pursue the transfer of routine, operational space functions to the commercial sector.

In addition, the policy includes goals and guidelines for NOAA and its partner agencies in the improvement of space-based Earth and solar observation capabilities needed to conduct science, forecast weather, monitor global climate change, manage natural resources, and support disaster response and recovery.  The policy promotes international collaboration in space-based environmental observation and the worldwide adoption of policies for full, open and timely access to government environmental data.

“The President’s policy underscores the importance of space in fulfilling our nation’s environmental priorities, including climate change monitoring,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.

The Obama administration is also committed to taking steps to help Florida's Space Coast adapt and thrive in the years ahead.

Along with NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Locke is the co-chair of the recently launched Presidential Task Force on Space Industry Work Force and Economic Development. The Task Force is charged with developing, in collaboration with local stakeholders, an action plan to enhance economic development strategies and plans along the Space Coast and affected aerospace communities.  The President has requested $100 million in Fiscal Year 2011 to support the Task Force plan, with up to $75 million to be disbursed through the Commerce Department.

Earlier this month, Locke and Bolden traveled to Orlando where they held a town hall meeting to hear directly from local leaders working to strengthen and diversify the Space Coast economy. Members of the Task Force will continue to visit the region over the next several weeks to meet with stakeholders from the local, regional and state levels to ensure broad-based participation.

The Task Force will present its recommendations to the President on August 15th.

Find additional information about the National Space Policy at