Issue #3(21) 2019 Astronautics

Strategic role of government in space commercialisation

Bhavya Lal IDA Science & Technology Policy Institute, Washington DC, USA
Keith Crane IDA Science & Technology Policy Institute, Washington DC, USA
Sara Carioscia IDA Science & Technology Policy Institute, Washington DC, USA
Evan Linck IDA Science & Technology Policy Institute, Washington DC, USA

Space commercialisation is becoming an important goal for many national space programmes and this article, based on an analysis conducted by the United States’ IDA (Institute for Defense Analyses) Science & Technology Policy Institute - a Federally funded research and development centre, compares the efficacy of a government strategic investment fund with that of other government economic policy instruments in achieving commercialisation policy goals for government-led space programmes.

As part of US Space Policy Directive-1, the President of the United States set two objectives: “the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilisation”, and “the growth of a US commercial space sector that supports US needs, is globally competitive, and advances US leadership in the generation of new markets and innovation-driven entrepreneurship”.

To achieve the first policy goal, US government agencies that contract with the private sector will need to reduce costs and accelerate the development and procurement of systems required for civil space exploration, especially a return to the Moon. Achieving the second goal will entail fostering the growth of private space markets through both improvements to regulations and the use of a variety of economic policy instruments. Of course, this is all contingent on funding.

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