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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Applauds New National Space Policy That Drives American Leadership in Space Commerce


Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. praised President Donald J. Trump’s new National Space Policy for recognizing the significance of the rapidly growing U.S. commercial space industry and for strengthening the Nation’s role as the country of choice for space commerce.

“This new National Space Policy reflects the emergence of space commerce as a driving force for positive change in our economic and national security, contributing to America’s leadership in commercial space,” said Secretary Ross. “The policy sets the stage for American businesses to thrive domestically and compete internationally as the global space economy grows into a trillion dollar market over the next two decades.”

The 2020 National Space Policy recognizes that a robust, innovative, and competitive commercial space sector is foundational to economic development, continued progress, and sustained American leadership in space. It commits the United States to facilitating growth of an American commercial space sector that supports the nation’s interests, is globally competitive, and advances American leadership in the generation of new markets and innovation-driven entrepreneurship.

Among other things, the new policy makes the following updates in support of space commerce:

  • Directs the government to partner with the commercial space industry to gain innovation and cost savings;
  • Calls for targeted investments to encourage commercial space innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • Directs further regulatory streamlining to ensure timely, predictable, transparent, and flexible licensing processes that accommodate rapid innovation and adapt to market demands, consistent with Space Policy Directive-2 (SPD-2);
  • Tasks the Commerce Department to develop a new process to review, authorize, and supervise space activities beyond the scope of existing federal authorizations;
  • Reiterates the Commerce Department’s role as the lead civil agency for providing space situational awareness (SSA) and collision warnings to commercial space operators, consistent with SPD-3;
  • Underscores the need for responsible behavior in space (including use of SSA data and services), which is essential to safe, sustainable space commerce;
  • Calls for government and industry collaboration to secure the IT infrastructure for space systems, consistent with SPD-5; and
  • Promotes the development of commercial habitats in Earth orbit to eventually replace the International Space Station.

In addition, the National Space Policy provides updated guidance to civil space agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which operates the Nation’s fleet of weather satellites. The policy calls for closer collaboration among NOAA, Department of Defense, NASA, academia, the commercial sector, and international partners on weather data sharing and future satellite architecture development.

The non-profit Space Foundation estimates that the global space economy exceeded $423 billion in 2019, with nearly 80% of that total representing commercial space activity.  Commercial activities are growing and diversifying into a wide range of space infrastructure and new space missions. Multiple investment banks have forecast that the global space economy will surpass $1 trillion by 2040.  The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis has initiated its own research effort to measure the space sector’s contribution to U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Space is just one area where the Department of Commerce promotes economic growth and opportunity.  Secretary Ross’s Strategic Plan for the Department of Commerce prioritizes the expansion of U.S. commercial space activities as Strategic Objective 1.1. The Department is leveraging resources from across its bureaus to grow the space economy through industry engagement, policy advocacy, export promotion, regulatory streamlining, international cooperation, satellite data buys, regional development grants, minority business promotion, economic analysis, and intellectual property protection.