OSTP NSTC National Space Policy

National Science and Technology Council

For Immediate Release
September 19, 1996



  1. For over three decades, the United States has led the world in the exploration and use of outer space. Our achievements in space have inspired a generation of Americans and people throughout the world. We will maintain this leadership role by supporting a strong, stable and balanced national space program that serves our goals in national security, foreign policy, economic growth, environmental stewardship and scientific and technical excellence. Access to and use of space is central for preserving peace and protecting U.S. national security as well as civil and commercial interests. The United States will pursue greater levels of partnership and cooperation in national and international space activities and work with other nations to ensure the continued exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
  2. The goals of the U.S. space program are to:
  3. The United States is committed to the exploration and use of outer space by all nations for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of all humanity. "Peaceful purposes" allow defense and intelligence-related activities in pursuit of national security and other goals. The United States rejects any claims to sovereignty by any nation over outer space or celestial bodies, or any portion thereof, and rejects any limitations on the fundamental right of sovereign nations to acquire data from space. The United States considers the space systems of any nation to be national property with the right of passage through and operations In space without interference. Purposeful interference with space systems shall be viewed as an infringement on sovereign rights.
  4. The U.S. Government will maintain and coordinate separate national security and civil space systems where differing needs dictate. AJI actions undertaken by agencies and departments in implementing the national space policy shall be consistent with U.S. law, regulations, national security requirements, foreign policy, international obligations and nonproliferation policy.
  5. The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) is the principal forum for resolving issues related to national space policy. As appropriate, the NSTC and NSC will co-chair policy processes.
This policy will be implemented within the overall resource and policy guidance provided by the President.

Civil Space Guidelines

  1. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the lead agency for research and development in civil space activities.
  2. NASA, in coordination with other departments and agencies as appropriate, will focus its research and development efforts 'in: space science to enhance knowledge of the solar system, the universe, and fundamental natural and physical sciences; Earth observation to better understand global change and the effect of natural and human influences on the environment; human space flight to conduct scientific, commercial, and exploration activities; and space technologies and applications to develop new technologies in support of U.S. Government needs and our economic competitiveness.
  3. To enable these activities, NASA will:
  4. In the conduct of these research and development programs, NASA wall:
  5. The Department of Commerce (DoC), through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has the lead responsibility for managing Federal space-based civil operational Earth observations necessary to meet civil requirements. In this role, the DoC, in coordination with other appropriate agencies, will:
  6. The Department of the Interior, through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), will maintain a national archive of land remote sensing data and other surface data as appropriate, making such data available to U.S. Government and other users.
  7. The Department of Energy will maintain the necessary capability to support civil space missions, including research on space energy technologies and space radiation effects and safety.

National Security Space Guidelines

  1. The United States will conduct those space activities necessary for national security. These activities will be overseen by the Secretary of Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) consistent with their respective responsibilities as set forth in the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, other applicable law, and Executive Order 12333. Other departments and agencies will assist as appropriate.
  2. Improving our ability to support military operations worldwide, monitor and respond to strategic military threats, and monitor arms control and non-proliferation agreements and activities are key priorities for national security space activities. The Secretary of Defense and DCI shall ensure that defense and intelligence space activities are closely coordinated; that space architectures are integrated to the maximum extent feasible; and will continue to modemize and improve their respective activities to collect against, and respond to, changing threats, environments and adversaries.
  3. National security space activities shall contribute to U.S. national security by:
  4. Critical capabilities necessary for executing space missions must be assured. This requirement will be considered and implemented at all stages of architecture and system planning, development, acquisition, operation, and support.
  5. The Department of Energy, in coordination with DoD, ACDA and the DCI will carry o research on and development of technologies needed to effectively verify international agreements to control special nuclear materials and nuclear weapons.
  6. Defense Space Sector Guidelines:
  7. Intelligence Space Sector Guidelines:

Commercial Space Guidelines

  1. The fundamental goal of U.S. commercial space policy is to support and enhance U.S. economic competitiveness in space activities while protecting U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. Expanding U.S. commercial space activities will generate economic benefits for the Nation and provide the U.S. Government with an Increasing range of space goods and services.
  2. U.S. Government agencies shall purchase commercially available space goods and services to the fullest extent feasible and shall not conduct activities with commercial applications that preclude or deter commercial space activities except for reasons of national security or public safety. A space good or service is "commercially available" if it is currently offered commercially, or if it could be supplied commercially in response to a government service procurement request. "Feasible" means that such goods or services meet mission requirements in a cost-effective manner.
  3. The United States will pursue its commercial space objectives without the use of direct Federal subsidies. Commercial Sector space activities shall be supervised or regulated only to the extent required by law, national security, international obligations and public safety.
  4. To stimulate private sector investment, ownership, and operation of space assets, the U.S. Government: will facilitate stable and predictable U.S. commercial sector access to appropriate U.S. Government space-related hardware, facilities and data. The U.S. Government reserves the right to use such hardware, facilities and data on a priority basis to meet national security and critical civil sector requirements. Government Space Sectors shall:
  5. Free and fair trade in commercial space launch services is a goal of the United States. In support of this goal, the United States will implement, at the expiration of current space launch agreements, a strategy for transitioning from negotiated trade in launch services towards a trade environment characterized by the free and open interaction of market economies. The U.S. Trade Representative, in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council, will develop a strategy to guide this implementation.
  6. Consistent with Executive Order 12046 and applicable statutes, U.S. Government agencies and departments will ensure that U. S, Government telecommunications policies support a competitive international environment for space-based telecommunications.

Intersector Guidelines

The following paragraphs identify priority intersector guidance to support major United States space policy objectives.

(1) International Cooperation

The United States will pursue and conduct international cooperative space-related activities that achieve scientific, foreign policy, economic, or national security benefits for the nation. International agreements related to space activities shall be subject to normal interagency coordination procedures, consistent with applicable laws and regulations. United States cooperation in international civil space activities will:

(2) Space Transportation (3) Space-based Earth Observation (4) Nonproliferation, Export Controls, and Technology Transfer (5) Arms Control

The United States will consider and, as appropriate, formulate policy positions on arms control and related measures governing activities in space, and will conclude agreements on such measures only if they are equitable, effectively verifiable, and enhance the security of the United States and our allies. The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) is the principal agency within the Federal government for arms control matters. ACDA, in coordination with the DoD, DCI, State, DoE, and other appropriate Federal agencies, will identify arms control issues and opportunities related to space activities and examine concepts for measures that support national security objectives.

(6) Space Nuclear Power

The Department of Energy will maintain the necessary capability to support space missions which may require the use of space nuclear power systems. U.S. Government agency proposals for international cooperation involving space nuclear power systems are subject to normal interagency review procedures. Space nuclear reactors will not be used in Earth orbit without specific approval by the President or his designee. Such requests for approval will take into account public safety, economic considerations, international treaty obligations, and U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. The Office of Science and Technology Policy, in coordination with the NSC staff, will examine the existing approval process, including measures to address possible commercial use of space nuclear systems.

(7) Space Debris

(8) Government Pricing

The price charged for the use of U.S. Government facilities, equipment, and service, will be based on the following principles:

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