Space policy of the Donald Trump administration

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The space policy of the Donald Trump administration, as of December 2018, comprises four Space Policy Directives and an announced "National Space Strategy" (issued March 28, 2018),[1] representing a directional shift from the policy priorities and goals of his predecessor, Barack Obama. A fully articulated National Space Policy will not be issued, rather the NSS and the Presidential Space Directives are the only publicly available National Space Policy documents for the Trump administration to date.[2]


On December 11, 2017, President Donald Trump issued a presidential memorandum (also known as Space Policy Directive-1)[3] amending Barack Obama's "Presidential Policy Directive 4," changing the wording by replacing the paragraph beginning “Set far-reaching exploration milestones”[4] with: “Lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities. Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations.”

On May 24, 2018, Donald Trump issued Space Policy Directive-2,[5] "Streamlining Regulations on Commercial Use of Space," which begins "Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the executive branch to be prudent and responsible when spending taxpayer funds, and to recognize how government actions, including Federal regulations, affect private resources. It is therefore important that regulations adopted and enforced by the executive branch promote economic growth; minimize uncertainty for taxpayers, investors, and private industry; protect national security, public-safety, and foreign policy interests; and encourage American leadership in space commerce." The subsequent sections direct changes to existing policy as follows: (Sec 2) requires the Department of Transportation to, by February 1, 2019, review its licensing procedures and regulations for launch and re-entry of commercial space vehicles and "rescind or revise those regulations, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules rescinding or revising" them. It also directs the Secretary of Transportation to consider a single blanket license for commercial spaceflight, and to consider "replacing prescriptive requirements in the commercial space flight launch and re-entry licensing process with performance-based criteria," in coordination with the National Space Council.

In Sec. 2(c), the Secretary of Defense and the NASA Administrator are also directed examine regulatory requirements for commercial spaceflight launches and re-entry operations from federal government ranges and "to minimize those requirements, except those necessary to protect public safety and national security," to assist the Secretary of Transportation in implementing the directive. In Sec. 2(c), the Secretary of Commerce is directed to rescind or revise regulations pertaining to remote sensing satellites that might impede the goals of Section 1, and to coordinate with the aforementioned officials as well as the Secretary of State and, as appropriate, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

On June 18, 2018, Donald Trump issued Space Policy Directive-3 (SPD-3),[6] "National Space Traffic Management Policy." Section 6 conveys the actual responsibilities generated by the directives in the preceding sections, basically instructing the members of the National Space Council to come up with plans, and directing the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA Administrator), the Secretaries of State, Defense, Commerce, and Transportation, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement Space Situational Awareness (SSA), Space Traffic Management (STM), and development of appropriate Science & Technology research to support expansion and interoperability (internationally and between various parties domestically) of SSA and STM systems. Basically, preserving the space environment for safe operations is in every nation's best interests, so the policy leads in the direction of cooperation on collision avoidance, orbital debris mitigation, etc. This reiterates concerns raised in the 2010 National Space Policy, but expands with directives to various agencies who are stakeholders, and includes the recently re-formed National Space Council.

On October 23, 2018, the White House issued a press release detailing the recommendations that will be addressed in Space Policy Directive-4 (SPD-4).[7] These are centered on the formation of a Space Force, and follow the guidelines of Donald Trump's June 18, 2018 directive to the Department of Defense to immediately begin the process necessary to establish Space Force as a separate military branch. The six recommendations are:

  • Forming a United States Space Command to control our space forces and develop the tactics, techniques, and procedures for military space operations.
  • Establishing the Space Force as a separate and distinct branch of the military whose mission will be to organize, train, and equip combat space forces.
  • Calling on Congress to authorize the establishment of a Space Force and provide funding for the United States Space Command.
  • Launching a joint review by the National Space Council and National Security Council of existing space operational authorities for meeting national security objectives, informed by DOD's assessment of the authorities required.
  • Creating a Space Development Agency to ensure Americans in the Space Force have cutting-edge warfighting capabilities.
  • Creating collaborative mechanisms with the Intelligence Community to improve unity of efforts for the development of space capabilities and operations.

See also


  1. "President Donald J. Trump is Unveiling an America First National Space Strategy". The White House.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "White House Releases Fact Sheet on New National Space Strategy – Updated".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Presidential Memorandum on Reinvigorating America’s Human Space Exploration Program (SPD-1)
  4. National Space Policy of the United States of America
  5. Space Policy Directive-2, Streamlining Regulations on Commercial Use of Space
  6. Space Policy Directive-3, National Space Traffic Management Policy
  7. President Donald J. Trump Is Launching America’s Space Force (press release)
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