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Policy Paper Says U.S. Must Have Defense, Nuclear Power Use Of Space

By | October 16, 2006

      A new version of the National Space Policy, the first in a decade, says the United States must have both defense and peaceful use of outer space, and also the right to use nuclear power systems that enable or enhance space exploration or operations.

      The policy paper, which President Bush authorized in August, warns that the United States will not tolerate attempts by other nations to colonize space or celestial bodies.

      Space systems have a right of passage through space without interference, and any interference with that freedom of movement would infringe on U.S. rights, the 10-page paper states.

      Therefore, the United States will dissuade or deter anyone attempting to curb its rights in space. In this section, the paper doesn’t mention a recent move by China to light up some U.S. satellites with laser beams.

      “The United States will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space,” the paper states. Those rights can’t be diminished by arms control treaties, the paper states.

      Bush withdrew the United States from the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty, so as to initiate development of U.S. missile defense systems. U.S. interceptor systems may enter space to destroy incoming enemy ballistic missiles during the midcourse phase of their trajectories. Other ABM systems might be space-based, in part.

      The policy also states that the U.S. government will use commercial space capabilities to the maximum extent possible.

      While the paper aims to see the United States strengthen the nation’s space leadership, it doesn’t suggest any increase in total funding toward that end.

      As far as procurement goes, “The primary goal of space system development and procurement must be mission success,” the policy states. “Achieving this goal depends on effective research, development, acquisition, management, execution, oversight and operations.”

      The policy urges working toward “realistic and stable requirements and operational concepts,” and “identifying and managing risks” and “setting and maintaining realistic and stable funding.” As well, the paper urges “delivering space capabilities on time and on budget,” while “providing acquisition managers with the tools, responsibility, budget flexibility and authority to achieve this goal.”

      And the paper countenances policies to strengthen and maintain the U.S. space-related science, technology and industrial base.

      The policy may be viewed in full at on the Web.

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