Space Exploration Policy

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Throughout history, presidents and their administration have chosen to focus on different aspects of the space program and allocate funding accordingly. There are also differences in how they have handled relationships with other countries in regard to regulations and cooperation. Two presidents who have starkly opposed each other’s policy are President Obama and President George W. Bush. This is true for many aspects of their administration, but especially true in regard to their space policies. According to Space Foundation, the space industry is broken into four main sectors which include defense, intelligence, civil, and commercial, (n.d.). Interestingly, though the policies of George W. Bush and Obama differed mainly in regard to the defense and civil sectors, they actually shared fundamental similarities and similar objectives in regard to the commercial and intelligence sectors.

President Obama space policy was viewed as a complete reversal of the foundation and policies President Bush set forth, (Broad & Chang, 2010). In regard to the defense sector, the Bush administration made it clear in 2006 that the United States would not stand for any limitations in gathering data or operating in space, (Broad & Chang, 2010). Bush advocated research of space weaponry with the capability of destroying enemy satellites. Once Obama took office, he instead worked towards international cooperation. Obama’s approach was seen as less confrontational and shared similarities with Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Reagan’s stance. Obama acknowledged that some specific missions may require making coordinating and reaching an agreement with other countries. Obama’s policy focused on abiding by International Traffic in Arms Regulations as well as other treaties, and laws, (NASA, 2010).

In regard to the civil sector, President Bush made it clear in The Vision for Space Exploration that space exploration was of great importance, (NASA, 2004). In regard to finances, NASA’s budget for the fiscal year 2005 was on track to meet cut the budget deficit by 50% over a period of 5 years, (NASA, 2004). In 2004, Congress made the decision to retire the Space Shuttle Program which occurred in 2011. This decision help to support Bush’s agenda of returning to the moon and turning focus towards travel to Mars as a part of the Constellation Program, (Forbes, 2017). Five years after its creation, Obama decided to cut the program completely, (Malik, 2010).

Both President’s understood the importance of national security and both focused on developing technologies and systems to support networks and information systems, (NASA, 2010). Bush appeared to focus on exploration and his policy felt that advances in national security would arise from research and focus on space exploration. Whereas NASA’s space policy under President Obama’s set forth specific National Security Space Guidelines, (2010).

Though there were extreme differences in the space policies of George W. Bush and Obama, there were similarities that existed between their space policies. In regard to the commercial sector, both administrations were moving towards an interest and focus on commercial spaceflight. Bush wanted to rely on commercial and international participation to provide transportation to the International Space Station and for low Earth orbit missions, (NASA, 2004). Obama’s space policy included supporting a “competitive commercial space sector,” to aid in progress and innovation, (NASA, 2010).

Though their policies varied in regard to the civil sector, one major similarity between their space policies is that both Presidents valued further study and supported a manned mission to Mars. Though President Obama cancelled the Constellation Program it was his disagreement in allocating further funding for lunar missions. Instead President Obama wanted to focus first on a manned flight to an asteroid before focusing on sending humans on a mission to orbit Mars, (NASA, 2010).

Though the policies of George W. Bush and Obama are inherently different, they both helped to usher in the age of commercial space flight. This has created healthy competition and innovations for the space industry that will benefit all major space sectors. Both President’s also supported further space exploration in regard to Mars, and helped to solidify this goal with the American people.

Cite this paper

Space Exploration Policy. (2021, Dec 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/space-exploration-policy/

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