Govts shouldn’t use public funds to compete with private industry: Scott Pace

Govts shouldn’t use public funds to compete with private industry: Scott Pace

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Scott Pace
Executive Secretary of the US National Space Council Dr. Scott Pace

Dr. Scott Pace, who has been appointed as Executive Secretary of the US National Space Council, in an exclusive interview:

How to eliminate barriers to nanosats such as high licence fees and other capital requirement?

Nanosats need not be exempt from regulations applying to larger satellites, but those regulations may need to be tailored to the particular characteristic of nanosats. For example, the small size of nanosats means they can be difficult to track and assess whether they are a collision hazard. Thus it may be necessary to require such satellites to have active or passive means of making them more easily observation. States are liable for damages causes by private actors under their jurisdiction or control, thus they have an incentive to ensure appropriate regulation and oversight.

How to regulate the space infrastructure to prevent its misuse without stifling innovation?

Licensing and regulation should be introduced carefully, in close consultation with industry, and on-best practices to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities. Such practices should include those necessary to minimize orbital debris, comply with international spectrum regulations, and ensure that states are able to provide authorization and continuing supervision of private sector activities under their jurisdiction or control.

Should there be government support and subsidy to this idea of sharing economy in space?

All types of funding should be encouraged. But government funding brings with it the responsibility to provide public goods as well as private gain. Direct subsides should be avoided if possible as they distort markets and create unfair competition. Indirect supports such as funding for research and using the government as an anchor customer create fewer market distortions.

Who should own the data, and the resulting analysis?

If civil remote sensing data is acquired using public funds, the data should be made available to the public. If private funds are used, then private companies can have full control of the data. If governments buy data from private firms, they should only buy the data rights needed to serve public needs. Governments should not have the right to demand private data and distribute it without fair compensation. Government-funded satellite data providers should not compete with the private sector except for compelling reasons of national security or public safety. In general, governments should not use tax money to go into commercial competition with private industry.

How should this data, services and transactions should be taxed?

They should be taxed on the same basis as any other information service or software. There should not be special treatment just because data comes from space. Revenues should go to a general treasury to serve the nation as a whole, not a particular agency or authority.