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Remarks by Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Karen Dunn Kelley at the Fourth Meeting of the National Space Council


Mr. Vice President, National Space Council, and guests - thank you for allowing me to join you today. 

I send regrets from Secretary Ross who is on an important overseas mission.

Since this Council’s last meeting in June, Secretary Ross has been very busy advocating for the U.S. commercial space industry around the world. 

He continues to emphasize our mantra – America must be the flag of choice of space commerce.

In June, following the last Space Council meeting, the Secretary testified before the House Science and Armed Services committees with General Hyten and NASA Administrator Bridenstine about the importance of President Trump’s new Space Traffic Management Policy – the first of its kind. 

That testimony illustrated the great “whole-of-government” effort to address the risk created by space debris to valuable satellites, commercial industry, and human lives.

This past summer, Secretary Ross also debuted a space commerce segment at our SelectUSA Summit which included some 3,000 business and government leaders - thanks in part to the help of Virgin Galactic, Lockheed, and others.   

Secretary Ross and his team have also been meeting with many dozens of stakeholders to discuss the challenges they face, not the least of which is burdensome regulation.

Commerce is conducting regulatory reform that will unshackle the commercial space sector and unleash economic growth. 

We estimate that our efforts will help spur on the global space economy, presently valued at $389 billion, to over $1 trillion. 

For example, last year an interagency MOU established concrete deadlines and escalation procedures when timely resolutions are not achieved. 

As a result, the Department’s commercial remote sensing office continues to expedite its licensing timelines.

Today, the average time-period for all remote sensing licensing actions is 62 days, less than half of the 2016 average of 140 days, even as the number of licenses increased. 

In 2010 there were only 26 licenses, and there are 227 today. Almost half of all current licenses have been processed since 2017. 

More streamlining and less red tape leads to more business.

I’m also excited to announce that yesterday, in response to the President’s Space Policy Directive 2, the Department submitted to the Office of Management and Budget a new draft rule that, if finalized, will revolutionize the way we regulate use of cameras in space.

This will replace 25-year old outdated regulations that are slowing down industry advancement.

The proposed new rule would establish categories for license applications that exempt certain, pre-approved activities, from the lengthy review process. 

It will allow the Federal government to focus its efforts on proposals that truly warrant national security attention.

In other words, the Mclean High School CUBESAT science project would probably not go through the same review process as a highly advanced sensing satellite. 

And SpaceX’s “Go-Pro-Like” camera that is used for marketing, and showing customers that their payloads have successfully separated, should not be treated the same as a highly technical camera that can see my shoelaces from space.

We look forward to working with OMB and our interagency colleagues to get this proposed rule finalized so that the public can comment.

Next, I am pleased to report that last week the Department sent to Capitol Hill a new legislative proposal -- the SPACE Act. 

As directed by SPD-2, the proposal calls for creating a consolidated Bureau of Space Commerce, to be led by a Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary. 

The agency will report directly to the Secretary, coordinate all of the Department’s space efforts, and support the Department’s mission of creating the conditions for economic growth and opportunity.

Included in the legislative proposal is a provision for mission authorization that will enable America to support a wide range of new space activities (space tourism, space debris, manufacturing, prospecting, etc.).

To be clear, the proposal should not be mistaken as expanding government. Just the opposite. 

Working with our Regulatory Reform Officer, the Bureau of Space Commerce will better coordinate, consolidate, and connect space functions across the Department.  

The Bureau of Space Commerce will serve as the much-needed storefront for industry within the government.

As prioritized in the Department’s Strategic Plan, advancing commercial space is a whole-of-Department initiative. 

We have already begun laying the foundation for this “one stop shop.”

Our new space team, representing all Commerce offices and bureaus, meets at least weekly and collaborates on ways to advance this growing economy.

Our International Trade Administration’s Advocacy Center has recorded 24 project wins for space company projects around the globe valued at more than $4.3 billion, and currently has 21 active cases valued at $2.83 billion.

Even our grant-making agencies are focused on space. 

Last month, the Minority Business Development Administration awarded $400,000 to the Space Foundation to assist minority businesses. 

The Economic Development Administration’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship also solicits space commerce grant applicants.

Our Bureau of Industry and Security is actively engaged in White House-led interagency discussions on export control reform. 

And we continue working on holistic spectrum management policies that will advance the far-reaching commercial space missions envisioned by President Trump and Vice President Pence.

Our reinvigorated Office of Space Commerce is open for business! 

Following the last council meeting, Kevin O’Connell joined the Department in July as the new Director of the Office of Space Commerce. 

The position had been left vacant for over a decade. Not anymore. Welcome, Kevin.

Since the Council in June approved SPD-3 and its implementation plan, Commerce and the Department of Defense have been working very closely together.

Our senior space officials have been spending time at Vandenberg Air Force Base and in Colorado Springs to more deeply understand DoD’s existing operation and capabilities. 

As part of this partnership, we will soon assemble a cadre of Commerce employees to work at Vandenberg as the civil agency interfacing for industry on SSA-STM.

We’ve forged a strong alliance with DoD, the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Strategic Command, as well as other Federal partners including NASA, State Department, and DoT. 

We recently submitted our joint DOC-DoD 90-day report for the Space Council and will look forward to submitting a more comprehensive plan in December. 

We are also meeting regularly with the private industry preparing to provide tracking, analysis, and safe coordination of objects in space. 

We’re already investigating ways to incorporate cloud computing and other advanced technologies, into an “open architecture data repository,” to showcase innovation beneficial to the entire U.S. SSA/STM enterprise.

Finally, I am proud to highlight the Department’s new space technologies, including the GOES-R satellite and drone submarines, that are improving NOAA’s weather forecasting in an unprecedented way. 

Last month, during Hurricane Florence, NOAA’s 5-day hurricane track forecast accurately predicted the storm’s landfall within 2 miles. 

This enables state governors to more:

  1. quickly declare emergencies,
  2. order evacuations,
  3. and save lives. 

The importance of space technology and space commerce in our daily lives has never been more evident than today.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for the opportunity to speak about the Department’s progress.