Thursday, October 12, 2006
For the first time since 1996, the basic statement of American space policy has been updated. The new policy approved by President Bush reinforces the view, expressed in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, that resources in space are not subject to commercial or governmental appropriation. It states in slightly stronger terms than the 1996 policy the US intent to maintain freedom of action in space for uses such as reconnaissance satellites. Most importantly, from a scientific point of view, the old policy said NASA should study human expansion to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The new policy, in line with the Vision for Space Exploration the President announced in 2004, makes it clear the nation's intent is to carry out such exploration, not just study it.