General Policy Issues image of the White House

National Space Policy

Cover page of the National Space Policy On June 28, 2010, President Obama issued a National Space Policy directive providing comprehensive guidance for all government activities in space, including the commercial, civil, and national security space sectors. The new policy leans farther forward in support of U.S. business interests than any previous space policy.

The principles section of the policy states, "The United States is committed to encouraging and facilitating the growth of a U.S. commercial space sector that supports U.S. needs, is globally competitive, and advances U.S. leadership in the generation of new markets and innovation-driven entrepreneurship."

The first of the six stated policy goals is to "Energize competitive domestic industries to participate in global markets and advance the development of: satellite manufacturing; satellite-based services; space launch; terrestrial applications; and increased entrepreneurship."

View the policy at whitehouse.gov... View the Presidential statement at whitehouse.gov... View the Commerce press release on the policy...

Commercial Space Guidelines

The policy includes a set of Commercial Space Guidelines directing the U.S. Government to:

The guidelines define "commercial" space as referring to goods, services, or activities provided by private sector enterprises that bear a reasonable portion of the investment risk and responsibility for the activity, operate in accordance with typical market-based incentives for controlling cost and optimizing return on investment, and have the legal capacity to offer these goods or services to existing or potential nongovernmental customers.

Other Relevant Provisions

In addition to the Commercial Space Guidelines, the National Space Policy includes various other provisions affecting space commerce. These include:

Functional Space Policies

The 2010 National Space Policy replaces several space policies from previous administrations while retaining the following ones until further notice. These so-called "functional" policies provide detailed guidance on specific space activities within the general framework of the National Space Policy.

President Obama updated the National Space Transportation Policy in November 2013.

Some files have been posted in Portable Document Format (PDF) and may require you to download the free Acrobat Reader.

Space Interagency Policy Committee (Space IPC)

President Obama established a series of Interagency Policy Committees (IPC's) to manage the development and implementation of national policies. There is a Space IPC that includes the Department of Commerce as a member to represent the interests of the U.S. commercial space sector as well as NOAA's civilian space program.

During his presidential campaign, President Obama pledged to establish a National Space Council in some form. The purpose, as described by President Obama, was to oversee and coordinate commercial, civilian, and national security space activities. In practice, the Administration found that a strengthened interagency process, led by the National Security Council and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, met the intent of President Obama's promise and achieved the goals he described during his campaign. The 2010 National Space Policy is a manifestation of the interagency coordination through the Space IPC.

The following organizations support the Department of Commerce's participation on the Space IPC:

Presentations & Reports

In 2009, several independent groups provided recommendations to the government on the future of the nation's civil space program. These recommendations were considered during the development of the 2010 National Space Policy.