With NASA’s Artemis I launch looming later this month, Vice President Kamala Harris is calling for deeper collaboration between the U.S. government and the private space sector.
“Our government must deepen and strengthen our partnership with the private sector,” Harris said Friday at the Oakland, Calif.-based Chabot Space and Science Center.
“Today, at laboratories, on launchpads and in orbit — often, in partnership with our government — commercial space companies are making real the opportunity of space for millions of Americans,” she said. “Their work is accelerating innovation in the space sector and shaping our nation’s future in space.”
The commercial space industry is a critical driver of economic growth, Harris added, noting the nation’s space economy employs 354,000 while generating $200 billion annually.
New space rules framework
The U.S. government must adapt regulations governing space activities to the rapidly evolving commercial space environment, Harris said.
“[The rules] were written for a space industry of the last century,” she said.
“We know that if we are to partner, if we are to invest, if we are to seek those who understand the potential of all of it, clarity and consistency is critical,” Harris added. “And we know that we must write new rules that allow flexibility to incorporate the innovation that is occurring in real time.”
The vice president did not elaborate which specific rules need to be updated or added, but Harris — who serves as chair of the National Space Council — said the Council will discuss a new rules framework at its next meeting on Sept. 9.
Satellite Industry Association (SIA) President Tom Stroup supported Harris’ call for new space rules in a statement to Connectivity Business News.
“SIA is encouraged by U.S. Vice President Harris’ acknowledgment of the need to safeguard America’s commercial space leadership by updating those rules governing the industry that are obsolete,” Stroup said. “The satellite industry is in the midst of tremendous, unprecedented expansion, and SIA is pleased with the vice president’s recognition that the commercial space industry is a powerful engine for American economic growth. The Association and its members look forward to working with Vice President Harris, the National Space Council and the various lawmakers and regulators to update the regulations needed to maximize the great opportunities presented by the commercial satellite industry.”
In April, the White House banned anti-satellite missile testing, an activity that can create dangerous orbital debris. The U.S. has been highly critical of anti-satellite missile tests conducted by other countries.