President Donald Trump signs the Space Policy Directive-2 aimed at reformatting and modernizing outdated government policies on commercial space travel.
The White House announced on Thursday, the directive is set to speed up the issuance of licenses and other requirements to American private space companies that are developing technology for the commercial space travel industry. Companies such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic will benefit from the new directive.
Ultimately, the president's order will purposely reinstate the United States's leadership in space travel.
Wilbur Ross Jr., secretary of Commerce, said Trump's initiative makes America's Moon colony a future reality despite fierce competition with Russia and China.
Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, said the directive enhances America's capability in discovering new knowledge, protecting the national security, developing breakthrough technologies, and providing new career opportunities.
Space Policy Directive-2
The directive will ensure that all space-related government initiatives will advance the country's economic growth. It shall minimize doubts from taxpayers, investors, and private conglomerations. The directive is also designed to protect the national security and the interest of foreign policy.
Under the Space Policy Directive-2, the Department of Transportation is tasked to implement a new licensing regulatory system that shall govern the entry and reentry of space vehicles. Specifically, the department should consider requiring a single license for all types of commercial space flight launch and reentry operations.
The announcement noted that the current policies regarding launch and reentry of space flights were written without consideration of how the space tourism is being shaped at present.
A White House representative explained that existing licensing regulations had been created before private agencies, such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, developed their highly advanced technologies that made commercial space travel a possibility. President Trump reportedly wanted more flexibility to the new industry.
All offices involved in the licensing, administering, and regulating of commercial space flights will be consolidated under a "one-stop shop" housed in the Department of Commerce.
Through these reforms, the president wanted to ensure that private tech companies will choose to remain under the country's jurisdiction.
"President Donald J. Trump is committed to reform these systems in order to ensure American companies have every advantage in the international marketplace," reads the White House announcement.
American Leadership In Space
Ross stated that the directive was signed just in time when tickets for commercial flights into lower earth orbit were already sold for $250,000 each and before companies start to mine minerals in space.
He is also optimistic that the order from the president addressed the country's brewing space race with Russia, China, and about 70 other countries.
"Collectively, these efforts will unshackle American industry and ensure American leadership in space. But, perhaps more important, it is rejuvenating the American passion for space exploration," Ross stated.
Bridenstine is grateful to the Administration's investment in commercial space travel companies that serve as NASA's partners during important missions. SpaceX, for one, has carried important research and cargoes to the International Space Station.
He added that these partners will also be significant in future missions of NASA astronauts to the Moon and hopefully, in Mars.