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White House Introduces Novel Space Activities Framework

By Rachel Jewett | December 20, 2023

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the third National Space Council meeting under the Biden administration on Dec. 20. Screenshot via White House stream.

Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday announced a new U.S. policy for novel space activities — private sector activities that are not directly regulated under the current U.S. regulatory system. The policy was unveiled Dec. 20 at the third National Space Council meeting. 

The White House said the U.S. Novel Space Activities Authorization and Supervision Framework will allow the executive branch to better prepare for and shape the future space regulatory environment. It is a companion executive action to proposed legislation that the National Space Council transmitted to Congress in November. 

“This is one of the most significant steps we have taken to shape the future of the commercial space industry,” Harris said, introducing the framework. “President Biden and I are committed to establishing rules for commercial space activities that are strong enough to promote the safe and predictable use of space but flexible enough to ensure that we do not stifle innovation.  We intend that these domestic rules will serve as a model for global action.”

According to the policy, the U.S. has been a leader in domestic space laws and regulations, but the current oversight system “was not designed with today’s volume and diversity of private activities in mind.” 

The framework establishes a private sector space activities interagency steering group co-led by the Secretaries of Commerce and Transportation. The group will lead a process, working with the private sector, to develop and promote best practices and information sharing protocols to address core U.S. government interests common to novel space activities. 

“A thriving U.S. space industry creates jobs in many sectors including manufacturing, transportation, logistics, agriculture, finance, and communications. Developing a clear, comprehensive, and flexible regulatory environment that looks to the future will help maximize these benefits from a thriving private space sector,” the policy says. 

Wednesday’s National Space Council meeting also focused on international partnerships. Harris announced that the United States will land an international astronaut on the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade as part of the Artemis Program.