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Commercial Space Launch Policy

NSPD-2, September 5, 1990


The President has approved a new National Space Policy Directive providing important guidance which will further encourage the growth of U.S. private sector space activities. This policy, developed by the Vice President and the National Space Council, is completely consistent with, and provided the policy framework for, the President's August 22, 1990, decision regarding participation by a U.S. firm in Australia's Cape York space launch project. The policy supplements the National Space Policy which the President approved on November 2, 1989.

The commercial space launch policy recognizes the many benefits which a commercial space launch industry provides to the United States. It balances launch industry needs with those of other industries and with important national security interests, and establishes the long-term goal of a free and fair market in which U.S. industry can compete. The policy specifies a coordinated set of actions for the next ten years aimed at achieving this goal.



A commercial space launch industry can provide many benefits to the U.S. including indirect benefits to U.S. national security.

The long-term goal of the United States is a free and fair market in which U.S. industry can compete. To achieve this, a set of coordinated actions is needed for dealing with international competition in launch goods and services in a manner that is consistent with our nonproliferation and technology transfer objectives. These actions must address both the short-term (actions which will affect competitiveness over approximately the next ten years) and those which will have their principal effect in the longer term (i.e. after approximately the year 2000).

In the near term, this includes trade agreements and enforcement of those agreements to limit unfair competition. It also includes the continued use of U.S.-manufactured launch vehicles for launching U.S. Government satellites.

For the longer term, the United States should take actions to encourage technical improvements to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of U.S. space launch vehicles.


U.S. government satellites will be launched on U.S.-manufactured launch vehicles unless specifically exempted by the President.

Consistent with guidelines to be developed by the National Space Council, U.S. Government Agencies will actively consider commercial space launch needs and factor them into their decisions on improvements in launch infrastructure and launch vehicles aimed at reducing cost, and increasing responsiveness and reliability of space launch vehicles.

The U.S. Government will enter into negotiations to achieve agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA), ESA member states, and others as appropriate, which defines principles of free and fair trade.

Nonmarket launch providers of space launch goods and services create a special case because of the absence of marketoriented pricing and cost structures. To deal with their entry into the market there needs to be a transition period during which special conditions may be required.

There also must be an effective means of enforcing international agreements related to space launch goods and services.


The United States seeks a free and fair international commercial space launch market to further the use of outer space for the betterment of mankind. At the same time, because space launch technologies have significant military applications, important U.S. national security considerations must be addressed by our commercial space launch policy.

Over the past several weeks, the President has had detailed discussions with the Vice President and other senior advisors on U.S. commercial space launch policy developed by the National Space Council, the President has authorized the Secretary of State to approve a license application for participation by a U.S. firm in Australia's Cape York space launch project, provided certain agreements necessary to ensure U.S. national security interests are reached.

Specifically, the U.S. will seek agreements to ensure that:

(l) The USSR will provide launch services (boosters, equipment, technology, or training) only from Cape York or any other single location;

(2) The USSR end Australia will observe the Missile Technology Control Regime; and

(3) U.S. regulations on technology transfer to the Soviet Union will be observed.

The United States hopes and expects that these agreements can be concluded quickly so that the license can be granted.

To permit continued U.S. participation, the United States in the coming months will also be seeking agreements to ensure free and fair trade in the international commercial space launch market.

Details of the U.S. commercial space launch policy will be announced in the near future.

For more information contact, Sylvia K. Kraemer, Office of Policy & Plans, Code Z, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546,

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