process could provide stability to civil space projects and minimize changes in direction, priorities, and resources until the systemic effects of changes could be understood.

An effective process of alignment would lead to space activities that are cohesive, consistent, and persistent and would be shaped from a broad perspective on how civil space activities affect our economy, national security, and world influence. Civil space is often associated with NASA, but increasingly, other federal departments, including the Departments of Commerce and Transportation, have civil space programs. A growing private sector is active, as are important university and industrial research programs. The diffusion of civil space capabilities and responsibilities, however, is both beneficial (contributing to more parts of the economy and tapping the unique expertise of each agency) and problematic (confusing roles, missions, goals, and objectives). There is now both a special need and a special opportunity to align the strategies of the civil space agencies.

Because the nation’s space activities—both civil and national security—are not isolated elements but instead interact with the broader aspects of U.S. commerce, transportation, education, and international relations, the process for aligning the nation’s space activities should be well informed concerning the influence civil space already has throughout our society. And, even more important, it should reflect an understanding of the growing role of civil space in our lives.

The process should provide a framework for meaningful international relationships in civil space activities while realistically addressing national security priorities such as preventing transfer of militarily sensitive technologies to adversaries abroad. However, the current implementation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) has significantly limited the ability of the United States to exert strategic leadership in civil space. The ITAR regulations have made it difficult for the United States to enter into and execute meaningful cooperative programs in either the human or the robotic exploration of space, and they are judged to have damaged the health of the U.S. aerospace industry.1 The ITAR regulations have pushed other countries to develop indigenous space capabilities and have adversely affected U.S. market share, aerospace employment, and leadership. Since 1999, when communications satellites were moved to the Munitions List, the U.S. market share of satellite manufacturing revenues has dropped from above 60 percent to approximately 50 percent. The U.S. commercial communications satellite manufacturing share has dropped from 90 percent to 50 percent.2 In addition, aside from the adverse civil aspects, several expert assessments have concluded that the current implementation of export control regulations is harming national security rather than helping it. For example, a recent NRC report,


See Center for Strategic and International Studies, “Briefing of the Working Group on the Health of the U.S. Space Industrial Base and the Impact of Export Controls,” February 2008, available at


Ibid., p. 50.

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