NASA Administrator expresses support for Space Policy Directive-3
With the threat of space debris destroying satellites, crewed spacecraft and even the International Space Station increasing, processes have been initiated to help alleviate and prevent this threat. NASA’s new Administrator Jim Bridenstine made several statements about the new Space Policy Directive-3, which was signed by President Trump.During the June 18, 2018, meeting of the National Space Council, Trump signed SPD-3, which directs the U.S. to lead the management of space traffic and mitigate the effects of space debris.
“NASA strongly supports the White House’s continued bold direction in forging a sustainable and focused space policy that strengthens American leadership,” Bridenstine said in a NASA statement. “It was my honor today to represent the agency at the National Space Council, where the President announced Space Policy Directive-3—which will guide critical and much-needed progress for space traffic management. ”
This comes less than a month after the signing of SPD-2, which called for the reform of the United States’ commercial space regulatory framework. Additionally, SPD-1 was signed in December 2017, which instructed NASA to return U.S. astronauts to the Moon with the eventual goal of human flights to Mars.
“SPD-3 builds on our continued progress implementing SPD-1, which is galvanizing American space leadership by returning to the Moon with commercial and international partners, and SPD-2, which will create regulatory certainty for entrepreneurs to raise capital to grow the American economy in space,” Bridenstine said.
One of the main features of SPD-3 is the management of space debris. It calls for the U.S. to utilize government and commercial technologies to track and monitor debris and set new guidelines for satellite for satellite design and operation.
Additionally, it calls for the update of the U.S. government’s Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices, which currently states that spacecraft and upper stages should be designed to eliminate or minimize debris released during normal operations. Additionally, any debris larger than five millimeters that is expected to remain in orbit for more than 25 years is to be justified on the basis of cost and mission requirements.
“As we continue to thrive in space, we also have more people launching to orbit, and an increasingly complex universe of satellites overhead,” Bridenstine said. “SPD-3 provides guidelines and initiatives to ensure that America is a leader in providing a safe and secure environment as space traffic increases. Common sense space situational awareness and traffic management will be good for our economy and will help provide a more stable environment for the burgeoning space economy.”
The directive sets guidelines for the management of space traffic. In particular, the U.S. should provide basic space situational awareness data and space traffic management services “free of direct user fees.” Moreover, the Department of Commerce is called on to make space safety data and services publicly available.
“Reducing the growing threat of orbital debris is in the interest of all nations, and NASA looks forward to working with the National Space Council, the Department of Commerce and other partners on a path forward,” Bridenstine said. “SPD-3 and the directives that preceded it, along with the President’s enthusiasm for our nation’s innovative work, are providing a strong foundation for our nation to once again do the big things that will shape a bright future for all of us in space.”
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.