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Analysis: Administration Isn’t Tightening Restrictions On Exports Of Space Technology

By | November 20, 2006

      Where the new National Space Policy says that exports of certain space-based technologies “shall be approved only rarely, on a case-by-case basis,” it does not mean that such approvals would be granted more rarely than prior space policy permitted, the administration is understood to have decided.

      The key here is whether the technology has been around for some time and may be exported already, which should be approved for export readily, or whether it is “exports of sensitive or more advanced” technologies that would be approved but rarely on a case-by-case basis, in the administration view.

      This is not a major policy departure from the prior iteration of the National Space Policy by the administration, but rather is seen by the administration as a continuation of existing policy.

      One key here would be whether an identical or similar technology to the technology in an export proposal is available elsewhere, such as in commercial or overseas products. If so, that product more likely would win export approval.

      The administration also sees a need for space situational awareness, a point the administration will be working on in coming months.

      As well, the administration is understood to back use of commercial space endeavors such as imaging technology, encouraging agencies to use them.

      That said, however, the administration is unclear as to whether there is a true market for moderate-resolution imagery.

      In any commercial effort, there is a question for a company as to whether investing in creating a capability to produce a product will then result in customers, including government or military agencies, purchasing it.

      Still, imagery can be used in homeland defense, such as during disaster relief, in the administration view.

      On another point, while some organizations advocate only peaceful uses of space and oppose any military uses, the administration asserts that any set of rules must permit any nation, including the United States, to act in self defense.

      Some lawmakers in Congress decry any move toward the weaponization of space.

      Finally, the administration still is working on how best to further the National Space Policy call for development and procurement most likely to ensure mission success.

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