The History of U.S National Space Policy

In every presidential administration, there is a correlation between space policy evolution and significant events. The process of developing space policy in the United States lacked foresight. Every government seemed to start again when it came to the development of space policy. In this article will see space policy evolution divided into two historical periods. The first was the post-WWII and the Cold War emergence, related to this case, the V-2 Rocket by Werner von Braun gave U.S. more technology to begin sampling in space as soon as World War II took place. So only the U.S. and the Soviet Union were able to access space in the late 1950s and early 1960s during the next Cold War.

Space as venue of Cold War: US – Soviet Rivalry

The U.S.-Soviet rivalry spread into space, becoming another venue for the Cold War and initially both parties took important steps to protect these 3 domains while ensuring freedom of access and thus space race and related space policies were born in this term. The Cold War and space exploration began in the 1950s and 1960s. Both were interwoven and had a maturity and direction connection. The impact of this space exploration was that the rockets provided the United States with the ability to spy on the Soviet Union and this technology would result in a nuclear ballistic missile.

During Eisenhower and Kennedy’s administration concentrated on the Cold War, initially driving the U.S space policy and strategy. In November 1954, in a highly classified project called “AQUATONE”. President Eisenhower decided to take a strategic decision Recognition of a national policy approved a high-flying U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. To ensure the efficiency of airborne reconnaissance aircraft over the Soviet Union, Eisenhower offered a proposal to the Soviet Union to give both the US and the Soviet Union’s right to recognize each other’s overflight.

In 1955, to present both the Soviet Union and the United States, President Eisenhower brought Open Skies to Geneva. Access to one another’s airspace. The proposal was refused by Khrushchev, but the United States of America continued. Overflights in the Soviet Union. The space shooting down exacerbated the arms race further. The need for intelligence, surveillance and recognition (ISR) systems by President Eisenhower to fly over denied access areas has become a high administrative priority. One of President Eisenhower’s classified military space programs was the CORONA project. CORONA’s project aimed at carrying out recognition missions across the Soviet Union.  By the fall of 1960, the CORONA project became the backbone of America’s strategic reconnaissance capability.

In 1958, President Eisenhower proposed to Congress the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) as a civilian space agency. Congress agreed and space exploration has now become the nation’s military and civil venture. Now the United States had organizations and space exploiting capabilities that needed to establish policy because President Eisenhower signed the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act on 29 July 1958 to protect satellites and continue the program of ballistic missiles. The law regulates and declared that space activities should be dedicated to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all humanity.

The law also defined the role of the Department of Defence (DoD) in the space field as responsible for “developing arms systems, military operations or defending the United States” President Kennedy continued the strong advocacy of space exploration by President Eisenhower. In particular, President Kennedy also requested funding from the Congress, “to speed up the use of space satellites for worldwide communications and global weather observation”. The U.S. made substantial progress in space technology and space policy during these administrations.

End of Cold War – 1980s and 1990s

               The administration of Reagan, Bush and Clinton all recognized the usefulness of Space domain in achievement of national security goals. Alas, all three of them Governments have suffered from the space policy’s short-sighted approach. The administration of Reagan concentrated on ending the Cold War.

The Reagan’s DoD budget is rumoured to have risen to the level of the government pre and early-Nixon, which amounted to 6.2% of GDP or 28.1% of the total federal budget dedicated to the overall defence plan. The Reagan Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) and other initiatives forced President Gorbachev to “choose” arms race and glasnost and perestroika. No government has spent more on defence on the basis of GDP percentage or percentage of the total federal budget after President Reagan. President Reagan also launched ASAT weapons research and development that paved the way for an offensive counter-space strategy. In 1982, the National Security Decision (NSDD) 42 of President Reagan addressed the ability to “pursue space activities in support of the [ nation’s] right to self-defence”.

NSDD 42 further stated that, if these measures were to contribute to the United States, “the United States would consider verifiable and fair arms control measures prohibiting or otherwise limiting the testing and deployment of specific weapons systems”. The United States, however, opposes concepts of arms control or legal regimes that seek general prohibitions on military or intelligence use of space.

 President Reagan’s policies addressed the Soviet Union’s direct ascent and co-orbital ASAT program directly.  President Reagan’s staff including leaders who were of short view and did not further consider the policy on the long-term implications of ASAT. While at that time, their focus on space could be said to be very specific aimed at winning the Cold War. Therefore, that it will have serious adverse effects on the future of the space domain.

 Other countries have taken the lead in developing disruptive technologies such as nuclear weapons and ASAT weapons. It ended with the Cold War, so that now Globalization and technology have had a major impact on space and have taken a lot of attention to the spatial domain of the community both international and commercial communities. Unfortunately, President George HW Bush showed little concern about space and space policy until Operation Desert Storm President Bush.

Post Cold War

From a geopolitical perspective, President George W Bush and President Obama faced similar challenges. And if looked from a spatial perspective, during their administration, the lack of foresight from past events and trends in space will culminate in. Both presidents focused on Iraqi freedom and the Enduring Liberty operation and to focused it the budgets were proposed for NASA and the DoD by both presidents is different. Between 2006 and 2009, approximately 17% of the United States was allocated by Bush administrations.

These two administrations have been spatially funded by the military. The launches of the DD ISR continued at a rate of 0 to 4 per year. For the last two decades, this was the standard DoD satellite launch rate. In the meantime, eleven countries operated 22 launch sites. The law on the preservation of space for the benefit of all humanity in the coming years addresses the issue of space policy for the United States and the international community.

 As a result, the space domain has become a much more challenging operating environment due to the lack of foresight in domestic and international space policy and law. Increasing efforts by foreign parties to interfere with satellite operations. For example, Iraq in 2002 blocked U.S. positioning, navigation, and timing signals. Libya and Iran interfered with international satellite television broadcasts provided by Arab nations in 2005. In 2006, China lasted a satellite of U.S. imagery recognition.

The approach of President Obama is very different from his predecessor. By issuing the 2010 United States National Space Policy and the 2011 Strategy for National Security Space, he was aggressive with space policy. In his space policy, President Obama has discussed and made contributions to improve the capabilities of civil and commercial space. So, it can be said that United States has committed to fostering and facilitating the growth of the U.S. commercial space industry, this supports the country’s own domestic needs. Thus, the legacy and transformation of space success also pose new challenges. The possibilities of using space were limited to just a few nations when the space age began and there were limited consequences for irresponsible or unintended behaviour. The U.S is committed to addressing these challenges. But that cannot be the sole responsibility of the United States. Based on the point mentioned in the National Space Policy, “all nations have the right to use and explore space, but this right also includes responsibility. The United States therefore calls on all nations to work together to take responsible approaches in space to preserve this right for the benefit of future generations.”

This can be seen, United States to call all nations to work together and be responsible in space in order to save future generations. Based on explanation above about the development of NSP, during the Obama administration, U.S. has shown that other countries recognize and adhere to the principles of mutual interest between all countries in acting, which is certainly responsible in space to help prevent misunderstandings and distrust. The space operations should be carried out in a manner that emphasizes openness and transparency in order to raise public awareness of government activities and enable others to share the benefits of space use.

I Gusti Ngurah Krisna Dana
I Gusti Ngurah Krisna Dana
Master Student at Department of Politics and Government, Faculty of Social and Political Science. Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.