Space Is Infinite, But Is There Room for Everyone?


The newly public U.S. National Space Policy–the first revision in nearly ten years–is fairly badass. The money quote on U.S. space hegemony, from the State Department account:

According to the U.S. space policy, "The United States will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limited U.S. access to or use of space. Proposed arms control agreements or restrictions must not impair the rights of the United States to conduct research, development, testing and operations or other activities in space for U.S. national interests."

"The danger against which we all must be vigilant," [Robert Luaces, U.S. representative to the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security] said, "is not some theoretical arms race in space, but threats that would deny peaceful access to and use of space—especially ground-based space denial capabilities intended to impede the free access to and use of space systems and services."

In other words, space is ours, bitches.

Which isn't to say that there won't be lots of space-based fun for all. Said Luaces: "We also believe other nations have the right to be in space as well, and that those nations who have space systems, services and capabilities in space have the right of free passage; that is, their satellites should be able to go wherever they go unimpeded." The document should also give hope to commerical/private space nerds, with significant verbiage mandating coordinated government action to "enable a dynamic, globally competitive domestic commercial space sector in order to promote innovation, strengthen U.S. leadership, and protect national, homeland, and economic security." Here's the whole section on "commerical space guidelines" from the fact sheet on the unclassified document [PDF]:

It is in the interest of the United States to foster the use of U.S. commercial space capabilities around the globe and to enable a dynamic, domestic commercial space sector. To this end, departments and agencies shall:

* Use U.S. commercial space capabilities and services to the maximum practical extent; purchase commercial capabilities and services when they are available in the commercial marketplace and meet United States Government requirements; and modify commercially available capabilities and services to meet those United States Government requirements when the modification is cost effective;

* Develop systems when it is in the national interest and there is no suitable, cost effective U.S. commercial or, as appropriate, foreign commercial service or system that is or will be available when required;

* Continue to include and increase U.S. private sector participation in the design and development of United States Government space systems and infrastructures;

* Refrain from conducting activities that preclude, deter, or compete with U.S. commercial space activities, unless required by national security or public safety;

* Ensure that United States Government space activities, technology, and infrastructure are made available for private use on a reimbursable, non-interference basis to the maximum practical extent, consistent with national security; and

* Maintain a timely and responsive regulatory environment for licensing commercial space activities and pursue commercial space objectives without the use of direct Federal subsidies, consistent with the regulatory and other authorities of the Secretaries of Commerce and Transportation and the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

There's lots more, so read the whole thing to learn about why the U.S. doesn't recognized international law in space. (For starters, it's not called "interplanetary law," is it?)