U.S. Joins the Space for Climate Observatory

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — This week, the United States joined the Space for Climate Observatory (SCO) initiative, fulfilling the commitment made by Vice President Kamala Harris during her November 2021 visit to France.

Richard Spinrad, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) signed the SCO Charter as the lead agency for the United States. He was joined for the signing ceremony by Philippe Étienne, the French ambassador to the United States; Philippe Baptiste, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO of the French National Center for Space Studies (CNES), along with representatives of the White House, NOAA and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  

The Space for Climate Observatory is an initiative of the One Planet Summit under the leadership of CNES to combine satellite and in situ data with scientific research to model and track climate change and its impacts at global-to-local scales. It is also working to establish indicators and decision-support tools in a coordinated and cross-disciplinary fashion, including with social and economic sciences, to enhance the global community’s collective ability to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

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Richard DalBello Appointed to Head NOAA’s Office of Space Commerce

Rich DalBello (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WASHINGTON (Commerce Department PR) — Today, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced that Richard DalBello, a venerable figure in government and the private-sector satellite industry, has been appointed to be the new director of NOAA’s Office of Space Commerce (OSC), the coordinator of space commerce policy activities within the U.S. Department of Commerce. DalBello officially will begin his duties on May 9.

OSC’s key mission is to foster the conditions for the economic growth and technological advancement of the U.S. commercial space industry, issuing, enforcing and maintaining operating licenses for private remote sensing space systems and positioning the nation as a leader in space. OSC is also responsible for modernizing and managing the U.S. systems for space situational awareness.

DalBello has more than 30 years of public and private sector commercial space experience. In his previous position as Virgin Atlantic’s Vice President of Global Engagement, he managed international business development for the company’s fleet of carrier aircraft and space vehicles.

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Space Commerce in DOC’s Strategic Plan for 2022-2026

WASHINGTON (Commerce Department PR) — The Department of Commerce released its updated Strategic Plan for 2022-2026. Strategic Objective 1.7 of the plan is to “Advance U.S. leadership in the global commercial space industry.

Strategic Objective 1.7 cites the following five strategies:

  1. Coordinate regulatory functions across domestic and international stakeholders to promote competitiveness, and increase legal certainty for U.S. commercial space businesses;
  2. Grow the customer base for U.S. commercial space goods and services;
  3. Improve space safety and sustainability;
  4. Promote commercial space innovation;
  5. Advance development, use, and application of space-based Earth observation capabilities to empower better decision-making by the public and private sector.

These strategies align with the U.S. Space Priorities Framework released in December 2021.

The Commerce Department’s prioritization of space commerce is consistent with the previous Strategic Plan for 2018-2022.

View the strategic plan (16 MB PDF)
Learn more at commerce.gov

Lucas and Perlmutter Introduce Commercial Remote Sensing Legislation

Frank Lucas

WASHINGTON (Frank Lucas PR) — Today, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) announced the introduction of H.R. 6845, the Commercial Remote Sensing Amendment Act, to support commercial remote sensing activities in the U.S. The bill renews an expired requirement for the Department of Commerce to send an annual report to Congress on the status of commercial remote sensing applications, regulations, and adjudications.

“Remote sensing has become a crucial tool allowing us to improve crop production, weather forecasting, and emergency responses to natural disasters,” Lucas said. “The technology is constantly evolving, and the commercial remote sensing industry is seeing tremendous growth. To effectively support and manage commercial remote sensing activities, Congress needs timely and comprehensive reports from the Department of Commerce so we can evaluate the state of the industry and how regulations are affecting its growth. I appreciate Representative Perlmutter’s support of this legislation, and I look forward to working with him to pass this into law.”

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Commerce Releases Updated Space Economy Statistics for 2012-2019

WASHINGTON (Commerce Department PR) — On January 26, 2022, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released updated statistics on the U.S. space economy, building on the preliminary estimates published in December 2020.

The revised figures show that, in 2019, the U.S. space economy accounted for $194.4 billion of real gross output, $125.9 billion of real GDP (translating to 0.6 percent of U.S. GDP), $42.4 billion of private industry compensation, and 354,000 private sector jobs.

Average annual growth of real value added over the 2012–2019 period was 2.7 percent, higher than the 2.3 percent growth in the overall U.S. economy.

This was driven by strong growth in space-related manufacturing value added, which grew by an average of 7.8 percent annually, offsetting declines seen in the direct-to-home satellite TV market.

For all but one year (2017), manufacturing growth in the space economy was faster than the overall U.S. economy – driven by production of satellite equipment and GPS receivers.

Download the report and learn more at BEA.gov

Committee Leaders Question Biden Administration’s Efforts to Address Space Debris Issues

The scales of the space debris problem (Credit: ESA)

WASHINGTON (Senate Commerce Committee PR) – U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., ranking member and chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, along with Sens. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., and John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., ranking member and chair of the Subcommittee on Space and Science, today sent a letter requesting that Vice President Kamala Harris prioritize space debris issues in her role as chair of the National Space Council. The Senators also sent a letter to Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to inquire about the department’s outer space-related efforts following Russia’s destructive anti-satellite test two weeks ago.    

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House Passes Infrastructure Spending Bill With Extra $1 Billion for NASA

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 5376, the Build Back Better Act last week that includes billions of dollars in funds for NASA, NOAA and other scientific and technology agencies.

In addition to funding improvements to physical infrastructure, the measure puts a major emphasis on addressing climate change, a problem that the Biden Administration takes seriously. The previous president described as a Chinese plot to destroy American industry.

The bill now goes to the Senate where its fate is uncertain.

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Lucas, Babin Push Back Against NTSB Move to Expand Role into Commercial Space Accident Investigations

Part of SpaceShipTwo’s fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

WASHINGTON (Frank Lucas/Brian Babin PR) — House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas joined Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Ranking Member Brian Babin in a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) requesting information on their attempts to expand their role in commercial space accident investigations. Concurrently, Babin introduced a resolution to reiterate that commercial space launch is a developmental activity, rather than a mode of transportation.

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New Russian Sanctions Include Commercial Space Launch Activities

Export applications to face presumption of denial beginning September 1, 2021

WASHINGTON (Commerce Department PR) — On March 1, 2021, the Secretary of State determined pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 that the Government of Russia used chemical weapons in violation of international law or lethal chemical weapons against its own nationals.

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Report: Biden to Retain National Space Council

NASA’s Orion spacecraft that flew Exploration Flight Test-1 on Dec. 5, 2014 is seen on the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, July 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. Lockheed Martin, NASA’s prime contractor for Orion, began manufacturing the Orion crew module in 2011 and delivered it in July 2012 to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where final assembly, integration and testing was completed. More than 1,000 companies across the country manufactured or contributed elements to the spacecraft. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Politico reports that the Biden Administration will retain the National Space Council. The council was revived by the Trump Administration in 2017 to coordinate national space activities after a 24-year gap in operation.

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Industry Groups Urge Increased Support for Office of Space Commerce

Three industry groups have written a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to emphasize the importance of the Office of Space Commerce in supporting the U.S. space industry.

“Given the constant developments, from start-ups to new technologies in the space sector, and the uncertainties of the post-pandemic and changing regulatory environment globally, the space industry requires a strong U.S. Office of Space Commerce to drive continued growth here and abroad for U.S. space industry,” the letter said.

The document was signed by the Aerospace Industries Association, Commercial Spaceflight Federation and Satellite Industry Association.

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Report on Commerce Department’s Space Accomplishments

WASHINGTON (Commerce Department PR) — The Office of Space Commerce published a report on the Commerce Department’s space commerce accomplishments under Secretary Wilbur Ross and the Trump Administration.

The report recaps the Department’s success in achieving its strategic objective to expand commercial space activities through a host of actions. The text of the report is below.

Department of Commerce Accomplishments Space and Space Commerce

Under the leadership of Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Department of Commerce emphasized the importance of space and space commerce to U.S. national and economic security, prosperity, and the growing role of the Department in this area. Strategic Objective 1.1 of the Secretary’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2022 was to increase U.S. commercial space activities; the Department’s efforts to improve space situational awareness were Agency Priority Goals in FY2020 and FY2021.

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U.S. Government Releases Orbital Debris R&D Plan

This GIF is part of a longer animation showing different types of space debris objects and different debris sizes in orbit around Earth. For debris objects bigger than 10 cm the data comes from the US Space Surveillance Catalogue. The information about debris objects smaller than 10 cm is based on a statistical model from ESA. (Credit: ESA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In its waning days, the Trump Administration released the National Orbital Debris Research and Development Plan, which is designed to guide federal R&D efforts aimed at limiting, tracking, characterizing and remediating debris in Earth orbit.

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Congress Approves Boost for Office of Space Commerce, Funding for Weather Satellites

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Congress approved a budget boost for the Office of Space Commerce (OSC) as it gears up to oversee civilian space traffic management (STM) and space situational awareness (SSA).

Congress provided OSC with $10 million and approved its plan with the merge with the Office of Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 approved on Monday. The amount is $5.9 million above the total the two offices received fiscal year 2020.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had wanted to elevate OSC into a bureau that would report directly to him. However, Congress elected to keep the office within the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS).

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Global Leader in SSA/STM Officially Launches as Independent Company

EXTON, Pa. (COMSPOC PR) — COMSPOC Corp. — a global leader in space situational awareness (SSA), space domain awareness (SDA), and space traffic coordination and management (STCM) — commences as an independent company and no longer a subsidiary of Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI). 

COMSPOC retains all SSA/STCM intellectual property, contracts, the products and services associated with SSA, SDA, and STM as well as its research arm, the Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI), and the free space data service, CelesTrak. COMSPOC will also continue to provide staffing and resources for several global organizations including the Space Data Association and the Space Safety Coalition.

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