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Press Release: National Space Policy

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Office of the Press Secretary

Contact: (202) 456-6020

September 19, 1996


The President today will announce a new national space policy that is the first post-Cold War assessment of American space goals and activities. The new policy commits the nation to a strong and stable program in space that addresses both U.S. civil and national security requirements, and will ensure America's role as the world's space leader.

The new policy, to be unveiled by Assistant to the President for Science and Technology John H. Gibbons, results from a year-long review undertaken by the National Science and Technology Council and the National Security Council. Among its key provisions:

  • Within the civil space program, the policy reaffirms a U.S. commitment to the International Space Station and to the next-generation of launch vehicle programs; it calls for an aggressive space science program including the sustained robotic exploration of Mars, sample return missions from celestial bodies within the solar system and a long-term program to identify and characterize planets around other stars; and maintains our current commitment to a long-term program of environmental monitoring from space.

  • In the commercial sector, the policy seeks to stimulate private-sector investment by committing the U.S. government to purchase commercially available goods and services, and by offering stable and predictable access to federal space-related hardware, facilities, and data. The policy also lays the groundwork for moving away from international launch quotas toward an international commercial environment characterized by free and fair trade in commercial launch services.

  • For national security, the policy directs closer coordination between Department of Defense and intelligence improve the nation's ability to support military operations worldwide, to monitor and respond to strategic military threats, and to monitor arms control and nonproliferation agreements and activities.

On August 7, 1996 the President called for a bipartisan summit on the future of America's space program. The policy announced today is an important milestone in the preparation for the summit, and will serve as the blueprint for future efforts to maintain a balanced and robust national space effort. An unclassified summary of the Presidential Decision Directive implementing the policy is available.

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