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Foundation hails White House Remote Sensing Policy

The Space Frontier Foundation hailed the new US Commercial Remote Sensing Policy released by the White House, and challenged NASA to implement the policy by creating a fund for commercial data purchase. The new policy, recently released by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), makes private enterprise the preferred source of satellite imagery and data for all Federal agencies, allowing government imaging programs to focus on needs that cannot currently be met by the private sector. The Foundation noted that commercial satellites have already done fly-by maneuvers past the Moon, and many asteroids are equally accessible. It also points to several US firms that are poised to launch lunar missions if a commercial incentive can be found – exactly what such data purchases would provide.

The Foundation congratulated the White House for saving taxpayer dollars with its decision. The group urged NASA to let its scientists create lists of targets and data they want, establish a price list for the data, and create a New Frontier Fund to pay for it upon delivery. Data purchase is a proven, market-based approach that NASA can employ in other areas as well, the Foundation pointed out. For instance, NASA has financed a number of suborbital demonstrators, such as the X-33 and X-34 that have failed. Private industry is now building suborbital rocketplanes. NASA could use the data purchase approach to buy flight-test data for reusable rockets from commercial companies.