Space is not one of the big battlefields of the presidential election.
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden didn’t say much about the final frontier in the 2020 race, peaking today (Nov. 3) with Election Day. (That moniker, however, is somewhat misleading, as more than 90 million people vote early and many states will count the ballots over the next several days.)
But many of us are deeply concerned with US space policy and how the next four years might shape it. Below is a brief summary of the positions of the two main candidates.
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Trump has been quite active in the space policy realm. For example, he revived the National Space Council, which has been inactive since the early 1990s. Vice President Mike Pence presides over it, whose task is to streamline extraterrestrial plans and priorities. of the country.
Trump also signed five different space policy directives. The first of them, has revised and updated a directive issued by President Barack Obama in 2010, putting the US firmly on the crew’s journey to the moon and beyond.
NASA is working to achieve these goals through its Artemis crew-based moon exploration program, which aims to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the moon by 2028. The Artemis crew’s first wing is currently targeted at 2024, an ambitious timeline that Pence announced in 2019.
Two of the other president’s other space policy directives seek to streamline the commercial aerospace industry regulations and spatial traffic control protocols. Another was to increase cybersecurity for space systems, and another directed the Department of Defense to establish the US Space Force.
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The Space Force, formally established in December 2019, is the nation’s first new military branch since the Air Force was established in 1947. The Space Force is part of the Air Force. Army, in the same way that the Marine Corps is part of the United States Navy.
The new Space Force has officially been in operation for less than a year, so it is currently unclear how much of the force will change the way the US does business in space, especially as many of its missions are missions that the Air Force used to perform. But the existence of the Space Force signaled a commitment to viewing space as an increasingly disputed field and to more vigorously defending America’s longstanding extraterrestrial dominance, priorities being US military officials have spoken out over the past few years.
Trump also signed an executive order earlier this year declaring that space mining was compatible with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, the backbone of international space law. This order affirms the stance taken by Congress that, in 2015, Congress passed laws explicitly allowing US citizens and companies to use meteorite and moon resources, such as water ice. moon can maintain moon outpost.
The President has also consistently sought to increase NASA’s budget during his tenure. Much of the increased funding has been spent pushing the crew’s moon; On the other hand, Earth science is often targeted for cuts.
So if Trump’s second term looks like the first, we can expect a continued tension on the commercialization of space, including the use of extraterrestrial resources. ; an ongoing push to protect America’s space assets and its dominance more broadly; and continues to prioritize NASA’s crewed expedition programs, particularly efforts to quickly return astronauts to the moon.
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Joe Biden’s discussion of space policy is, of course, more speculative, but we can make some educated guesses.
For example, some experts have predicted that US space policy would not change significantly if Biden won the election. Such forecasts often cite the Official Democratic Party Platform, which pledges to continue to support NASA and its broader space exploration.
“We support NASA’s work to bring Americans back to the moon and further to Mars, taking the next step in the discovery of our solar system,” the platform writes in part. (However, whether the same degree of urgency – bringing the shoe back to the moon in 2024 – for example – applies is another question.)
But the next sentence highlights an important distinction with the current White House priorities: “Democrats also support the strengthening of NASA and the Atmospheric and Great Earth Agency’s Earth observation missions. Ocean Country to better understand how climate change is affecting our planet. “
That makes sense: Biden has said fighting climate change will be a priority for his administration if he wins the White House. That would be a departure from the current administration; President Trump has expressed skepticism about the reality and dangers of human-induced climate change.
Going back to the analogy, President Biden could also be quite friendly with commercial space flight efforts. After all, Biden served as vice president under the administration of President Barack Obama, who asked for the federal budget to direct NASA to shift crew activities in low-Earth orbit to astronaut taxis. Private headquarters like SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program was established and operated in 2010 and awarded crew transport contracts to SpaceX and Boeing in 2014.
It is too early to speculate on other important issues, such as whether President Biden will continue with the current NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, or make his own choices. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store for Election Day and beyond.
This story originally appeared on Space.com.