A New Space Policy Surfaces:

President Bush authorized a new National Space Policy—the first revision in 10 years. Oddly there was no public announcement. The Office of Science and Technology on Oct. 6 posted on its Web site an unclassified 10-page paper, titled “US National Space Policy,” that states the President authorized the new policy on Aug. 31, however that paper seemingly attracted no notice until a Washington Post report on Oct. 18. At any rate, the buzz now seems to center on whether the new policy advocates weaponization of space. The OSTP paper does list as one of seven goals the ability to “enable unhindered US operations in and through space to defend our interests there.” It also specifically charges the Secretary of Defense with developing “capabilities, plans, and options to ensure freedom of action in space, and, if directed, deny such freedom of action to adversaries.” However, the old space policy also counted as one of its national security guidelines “countering, if necessary, space systems and services used for hostile purposes.” So, perhaps, it’s no wonder that, at Wednesday’s press briefing, White House spokesman Tony Snow denied any shift in policy toward weaponization. He noted, too, “The notion that you would do defense in space is different than the weaponization of space. … We’re comfortable with the policy.”