FILE PHOTO: European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer of Germany, NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron wave while departing the crew quarters for launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on a mission to the International Space Station at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo
December 1, 2021
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration on Wednesday laid out a new strategy for responsible civil, commercial and national security-related use of space amid growing commercial interests and concerns about Chinese and Russian competition.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, set to convene the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council, planned to ask members of the government body “to accelerate, expand, and develop rules and norms for responsible behavior in space,” the White House said.
“We are on the cusp of historic changes in access to and use of space – changes that have the potential to bring the benefits of space to more people and communities than ever before,” the administration said in a report outlining its space priorities.
The council’s inaugural meeting comes as Washington frets over rising security activity by its major rivals in space. China’s test of hypersonic weapons this year raised the prospect of an arms race over Earth-orbiting systems that could evade current missile defenses.
The administration also condemned Russia’s anti-satellite weapons test last month that they said created debris and endangered the International Space Station (ISS).
Meanwhile, a growing number of companies, including SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, are seeking to usher in a new era of private commercial space flights following years of private firms working alongside the U.S. government’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in rocket launches.
President Joe Biden is also set to sign an executive order on Wednesday adding the heads of the Education, Labor, Agriculture and Interior Departments as well as his National Climate Advisor to the National Space Council, the White House said.
The administration also wants the group’s work to increase space climate data and enhance scientific-related efforts that could aid job creation and U.S. competitiveness, it said in a statement.
The National Space Council is separate from the U.S. Space Force military branch created under former President Donald Trump.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Bill Berkrot)