Office of Science and Technology Policy
August 5, 1994
NATIONAL SPACE TRANSPORTATION POLICY
The White House today released a new National Space Transportation Policy document, as developed by the National Science and Technology Council and approved by President Clinton. The policy sets a clear course for the nation's space program, providing a coherent strategy for supporting and strengthening U.S. space launch capability to meet the growing needs of the civilian, national security and commercial sectors.
The policy commits the nation to a two-track strategy of: (1) maintaining and improving the current fleet of expendable launch vehicles as necessary to meet civil, commercial, and national security requirements; and (2) investing R&D resources in developing and demonstrating next generation reusable space transportation systems with the potential to greatly reduce the cost of access to space.
The new policy accomplishes four fundamental objectives:
1) Establishes new national policy for federal space transportation spending, consistent with current budget constraints and the opportunities presented by emerging technologies. Under the new policy, DoD will assume the lead responsibility for modernization of the current expendable launch vehicle fleet. NASA will assume the lead responsibility for research and development of next generation reusable systems. NASA will focus their investments on technologies to support a decision no later than December 1996 on whether to proceed with a flight demonstration program. This program would, in turn, provide the basis for deciding by the end of the decade whether to proceed with a new launch system to replace the aging Shuttle fleet.
2) Establishes policy on federal agencies' use of foreign launch systems and components. With the end of the Cold War, it is important for the U.S. to be in a position to capitalize on foreign technologies -- including Russian technologies -- without, at the same time, becoming dependent on them. The policy allows the use of foreign components, technologies and (under certain conditions) foreign launch services, consistent with U.S. national security, foreign policy and commercial space guidelines in the policy.
3) Establishes policy on federal agencies' use of excess U.S. ballistic missile assets for space launch, to prevent adverse impacts on the U.S. commercial space launch industry. Under START, these assets may be used in certain circumstances for civilian space launch. A serious concern in developing the policy was the possible impact that widespread government use of these assets could have on U.S. commercial launch companies. The policy obliges the government to fully consider commercial services as part of the decision making process and imposes specific criteria on the use of excess assets.
4) Provides for an expanded private sector role in the federal space transportation R&D decision making processes. In contrast with previous national policy on space transportation, this policy specifically directs the Departments of Transportation and Commerce to identify opportunities for government-industry cooperation and to factor these into NASA's and DoD's implementation plans.
These steps will help keep America at the forefront of space transportation technology, while ensuring that we have a robust and reliable expendable launch vehicle fleet.