Thursday, March 7, 2013

Space Policy of the United States

    There are international laws (the treaties overseen by the UN) and national laws (Title 51 U.S. Code). There is also space policy. Policy is defined as a definite course or method of action. Space policy is the course of action the country takes in developing and implementing space activities and exploration. This guides political decisions on the civilian, military, and commercial uses of outer space.
    Space Policy is made by the President of the United States and the United States Congress. In the Executive Branch the National Security Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Office of Management and Budget all play a part in forming space policy. In Congress different bodies share responsibility based on whether the policy is for civilian activity or military activity. Civilian space policy is made by the House Committee on Science Space and Technology Subcommitte on Space and the Senate Commitee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcomittee on Science and Space. Military and intelligence policies are under the purview of the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces and the Senate Armed Service Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds hearings on proposed space treaties.
     Once developed, space policy is carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA carries out policy aspects of both civilian and military space policy. Various agencies under the Department of Defense (DOD) also carry out space policy such as United States Space Command, Air Force Space Command, Navy Space Command, and the Army Space and Missile Defense Command.
     The first space policies were instituted under President Dwight D. Eisenhower with the passage of the National Aeronautics and Space Act that created NASA. Every President since has put forth a space policy to guide the country in its journey to and exploration of outer space. The various space policies and supporting documentation can be found on NASA's Key Documents in the History of Space Policy website.

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