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Obama’s space policy calls for greater cooperation

US: The Obama administration unveiled a space policy that renounces the unilateral stance taken by Bush administration (National Space Policy 2006) and instead emphasises international cooperation across a wide range of scientific, exploration and national-security projects. From navigation and earth observation satellites to robotic spacecraft to reducing hazards posed by orbital debris, the new policy shows willingness to share data for future programmes.

The Secretary of State, after consultation with the heads of appropriate departments and agencies, shall carry out diplomatic and public diplomacy efforts to strengthen the understanding of, and support for, US national space policies and programmes and to encourage the foreign use of US space capabilities, systems and services, according to the National Space Policy (NSP) paper.

The section of the latest national policy statement concerning space-based positioning, navigation, and timing systems is as follow:

“The United States must maintain its leadership in the service, provision, and use of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). To this end, the United States shall:
−−Provide continuous worldwide access, for peaceful civil uses, to the Global Positioning System (GPS) and its government-provided augmentations, free of direct user charges;
−−Engage with foreign GNSS providers to encourage compatibility and interoperability, promote transparency in civil service provision, and enable market access for U.S. industry;
−−Operate and maintain the GPS constellation to satisfy civil and national security needs, consistent with published performance standards and interface specifications. Foreign positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services may be used to augment and strengthen the resiliency of GPS; and
−−Invest in domestic capabilities and support international activities to detect, mitigate, and increase resiliency to harmful interference to GPS, and identify and implement, as necessary and appropriate, redundant and back-up systems or approaches for critical infrastructure, key resources, and mission-essential functions.”

In recent years, both China and the United States have destroyed satellites in orbit, raising fears about the start of a costly arms race that might ultimately hurt the United States because it dominates the military use of space. China smashed a satellite in January 2007 and the United States did so in February 2008. The new space policy explicitly said that the US would consider proposals and concepts for arms-control measures if they are equitable, effectively verifiable and enhance the national security of the United States and its allies.

The 18-page report said that space flights have already become multi-national because of active national (and commercial) players and the wide array of teaming among these players for different activities.

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Source: NSP Paper and The Seattle Times