Satellite Sector Encouraged by Obama’s Approach to ITAR, Commercial Procurement

Commercial Satellite Sector Sees Upside to New Space Policy Hopeful of ITAR Reform, Greater Stake in U.S. Roadmap for Space
Satellite Today

The Obama Administration’s new space policy brings an increased emphasis to the commercial satellite industry as a key player in the future space roadmap. Specifically, the policy calls on government space-based agencies to look first to commercial assets – a strategy that it hopes will lead to faster innovation and more economical access to space while fostering international collaboration and shared risk-taking.

Patricia Cooper, president of the Satellite Industry Association (SIA), says the policy “legitimizes a lot of discussions that the satellite industry has been having with both military and civil space agencies on a host of issues, including hosted payloads and collaborating for more secure communications and on-orbit safety.”

Josh Hartman, a former U.S. Air Force acquisition officer who now runs the Center for Strategic Space Studies (CS3), a government policy think tank, is most encouraged by the policy’s positive tone that encourages greater international and commercial engagement. “I think the biggest impact will be just a better global perspective and understanding of space not just to our security lives, but also to our every day lives as non-military, non government citizens,” Hartman says.

While it’s too soon to determine how the policy ultimately will roll out, many space sector observers expressed optimism that the policy also signals a willingness to look at export control reform. The U.S. House of Representatives passed an International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) reform bill removing commercial telecommunications satellites and related components from the U.S. Munitions List, however, the Senate is delaying any action until the release of a U.S. Department of Defense report outlining which space items it recommends be eliminated from the Munitions List. “I think we are closer to reform than we’ve ever been over the last 12 years, and we’re gratified to see how much interest there is in revisiting legislation, particularly out of concern for the health of the space industrial base,” says Cooper.

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