White House Announces New National Space Policy

Earlier this month, the White House released a new document titled “National Space Policy of the United States of America”. While the paper covers the basic aspects of a much wider range of issues including commerce and space debris, security in space remains one of the US government’s primary concerns.

While the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community both got their own subsections of the report, a large emphasis was placed on a whole-of-government approach that moves beyond just hard power to realize national objectives. In the words of the report:

“protect United States interests in space through […] synchronized diplomatic, information, military, and economic strategies that: Deter adversaries and other actors from conducting activities that may threaten the peaceful use of space by the United States, its allies, and partners; and compel and impose costs on adversaries to cease behaviors that threaten the peaceful use of space by the United States, its allies, and partners.”

Nevertheless, the Space Force was highlighted as the primary institution for furthering security in the space domain.

In many ways, the new report builds on Obama-era space policy (NASA/Jim Grossmann)

While some have argued that with President Trump slated to soon leave the White House the policy is likely to be replaced, there is significant reason to believe that the new document will continue to shape American policy well beyond Trump’s term in office. Trump’s space policy definitely builds on Obama-era decisions; the legacy of the 2010 national space policy is clear and the new document aligns with the recent, largely apolitical emphasis placed on space by the Department of Defense – the products of which include the 2019 Defense Intelligence Agency “Challenges to Security in Space” report. There is also little, if any,  political controversy surrounding the new document.

With this in mind, it might be worth giving the document a read if one is interested in the macro space issues on the top of Washington’s mind. The report is available here.