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Orbital CEO Calls For Improved Space Policies

By | December 14, 2000

      The new U.S. President and Congress should adopt space policies to address five key areas of concern, Orbital Sciences Corp. [ORB] CEO David Thompson told the Washington Space Business Roundtable last week.

      The successes and setbacks in commercial space during the last seven or eight years offer valuable guidance about new government policies that might be instituted to promote progress, Thompson said.

      While helpful in many areas, U.S. government space policies played only a secondary role in the dramatic growth of the commercial space sector in the last decade, he added.

      “Weak follow-through in actually implementing expressed government policies was the cause of some painfully significant missed opportunities,” Thompson said.

      At the top of the list, management and coordination of U.S. space policies could be enhanced by recreating an agency similar to the Bush Administration’s National Space Council between 1989-93.

      The panel served as an important policy development and coordination mechanism for the Executive Branch and consisted of capable senior people. It successfully reviewed and resolved issues ranging from the allocation of new frequency spectrum for global communications services to the licensing of commercial space launches, Thompson said.

      In early 1993, the Clinton Administration eliminated the council. Vice President Gore’s advisers have indicated they would not resurrect the council if he is elected, but instead would direct space policy himself.

      The better approach is one suggested by advisers to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, calling for the establishment of a National Aerospace Council to act as a high-level coordinating entity empowered by the White House much like the original space council.

      The need for such a White House-based coordinating body for space policy has never been greater for the U.S. commercial space sector, Thompson added.

      Five Areas Of Concern For The Space Industry

      1. The government’s internal structure for managing and coordinating overall space policy
      2. Its approach to commercial satellite export regulation
      3. Space transportation policies and programs
      4. Satellite remote imaging policies
      5. Opportunities for creative new policies that should be examined in the months ahead

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