Trade Groups; Industry Look Ahead to Space Council Sessions

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks at the first meeting of the National Space Council, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021
VP Harris speaks at 1st National Space Council meeting. Image: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Trade groups are urging the White House to use a “light touch” to regulate new orbital sectors, ahead of companies making their own appeals later this month. 

Mike French, VP for space systems at the Aerospace Industries Association, said AIA is working with members to help shape the process by which industry receives authorization for new space activities. Examples include satellite servicing and debris removal, which will be the subject of two National Space Council listening sessions with industry in November.

“Our fairly longstanding position has been that we’d like to see a federal department be given this authority, but have a fairly light touch process that’s behind it. That’s sort of where we start from,” French said. “We’re working with our members to focus a bit more on, can we help the White House process by bringing some definition to what that ideal process is?”

The how, not the where

Which agency owns the process matters less than what the process looks like, French said, adding that the goal is to avoid creating unnecessary layers of burdensome red tape. 

“We’re trying to focus not on where is the front door, but what is the actual process? Wherever it sits, what I think will be more important is that we don’t create a new regulatory bureaucracy around this question,” French said.

What are others doing?

The Satellite Industry Association is pushing for the White House to update the almost-20-year-old Commercial Remote Sensing Policy to better encompass new remote sensing technologies not addressed in existing policy, like radio frequency and infrared. The group is also calling for an update to National Security Policy Directive 27, which governs commercial remote sensing regulations, to stress the importance of a strong commercial space industrial base.

What’s next: The National Space Council is holding two listening sessions on Nov. 14 and 21. AIA will provide written comments to the White House by Dec. 1, French said.

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