Industry groups supporting special treatment for the Office of Space Commerce


Three groups in the space industry are requesting the continued help from the Office of Space Commerce by the Commerce Department. The three groups, which are Satellite Industry Association, the Aerospace Industries Association, and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, wrote a letter addressing Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, asking her to continue advocating for the small office because it plays a vital role in meeting the demands of the space industry.

The agencies pointed at the increasing developments, which include the expansion of the technologies by startups in the space industry, the evolving regulations about the space environment, and the impacts of the pandemic. The entities explained that the U.S. Office of Space Commerce must be stable to continue championing for growth and development of the U.S. space sector.

The office in question is situated in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and has undergone wild shakeups lately. This office was inactive in the Obama Era because his administration couldn’t select a director. It is the Trump administration that reactivated it and chose Kevin O’Connell, who has been heading the office and seeing it through the development processes.

The agencies discovered that Obama has some say in the government, and his participation in the government activities might result in the closure of the office. This office became extremely active in the Trump administration, and some of its activities include leading the space traffic management (STM) proposals. This active involvement resulted in the transfer of this task to the Defense Department to promote the advancement of the space industry.

The fiscal year 2021 appropriations bill stated that this office must receive $10 million to lead the STM pilot program and integrate the Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs office within NOAA to enhance commercial imaging systems. However, the office has only received $1.8 million from the annual budget, indicating that the new administration is slowly neglecting the activities of this vital office. The agencies started noticing changes when the Commerce Department threw a cold shoulder over its plans for the Office of Space Commerce.

Moreover, the election of a new commerce secretary is proof that there are some heinous changes about to take place that would affect this office. The Commerce Department is yet to respond to the letter raising more concerns over the truth of the rumors surrounding the Office of Space Commerce. Other changes that the space industry is observing include the appointment of the administrators for NASA, NOAA, and the secretary of the Air Force. These appointments are essential since they will determine the direction that the space industry will take.

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