Commerce Department Proposes Legislation to Advance U.S. Government Space Commerce Activities

October 16, 2007

The Department of Commerce proposed legislation to boost the U.S. government’s space commerce activities. Specifically, the bill would reauthorize the Office of Space Commercialization (OSC) and focus the office’s responsibilities to enable a robust and responsive U.S. commercial space industry.

“From wireless communications to automotive navigation systems, people’s daily lives are increasingly dependent on the commercial space industry,” said retired Navy VADM Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We want to ensure the environment is right for continued growth in this important industry, and a robust Office of Space Commercialization gives us that ability.”

OSC Executive Director Edward Morris added, “The Office of Space Commercialization, as the principal unit for space commerce activities within the Department of Commerce, has emerged as an important link for the commercial space industry in dealing with the federal government. This legislation will improve our ability to identify emerging government commercial space needs, support removal of institutional impediments enabling future market growth and enhance U.S. industry competitiveness in the international marketplace.”

The legislation will update the Office’s functions to implement U.S. national space policies supporting space commerce. It also will recognize the office’s expanding role in promoting geospatial technologies such as space-based commercial remote sensing imagery and Global Positioning System (GPS) applications that have become commonplace on the internet and mobile devices. Finally, this legislation will restore the Office’s original name, “Office of Space Commerce,” to more accurately reflect its responsibilities.

The legislation codifies the Office’s responsibilities under the U.S. Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Policy to include its stewardship of the National Space-Based PNT Executive Committee and its Coordination Office. These organizations were established by President Bush to manage GPS-related policy issues at a national level, recognizing the importance of GPS as a critical element of the global information infrastructure, affecting civilian, commercial, and national security interests.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.