Press Release

Experts Urge Reformulation of U.S. Space Policy: American Academy Issues Three White Papers


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Click here for audio. The Obama Administration has an opportunity to fundamentally reformulate United States space policies that are anchored in Cold War-era mindsets, according to the director of an American Academy of Arts and Sciences study. At a Capitol Hill briefing today in conjunction with the release of three new policy monographs, experts outlined the current state of U.S. and foreign space policy and encouraged the Administration to set a clear direction that advances the country’s national security, civilian, and commercial interests in space.

Space has proven to be an arena for “uplifting collaboration among nations as well as ominous confrontation,” said John Steinbruner, University of Maryland Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Academy’s project on Reconsidering the Rules of Space. The end of the U.S.-Soviet competition that defined the modern space age, as well as an increase in the ranks of space-faring nations and an expansion of commercial space ventures, dictates a new approach that embraces “the equitable utilization of space by all nations for common benefit,” he said.

The Academy released three white papers today dealing with separate aspects of space policy. The new papers include:

  • United States Space Policy: Challenges and Opportunities Gone Astray by George Abbey and Neal Lane
  • A Place for One’s Mat: China’s Space Program 1956–2003, by Jeffrey Lewis and Gregory Kulacki
  • A European Approach to Space Security by Xavier Pasco

A fourth white paper, Reconsidering the Rules for Space Security by Nancy Gallagher and John D. Steinbruner, was issued last year.

Later this year, the Academy will publish the final paper in the series, The Future of Human Spaceflight: Objectives and Policy Implications in a Global Context, by David A. Mindell, Scott A. Uebelhart, Asif Siddiqi, and Slava Gerovitch.

Other participants in the Academy project speaking at today’s briefing are Neal Lane, Rice University professor and former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; George Abbey, Senior Fellow in Space Policy at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and former Director of the Johnson Space Center; Nancy Gallagher, Research Director at the Center for International and Security Studies, University of Maryland; and Jeffrey Lewis, Director of the Nuclear Strategy and Nonproliferation Initiative at the New America Foundation.

The Academy’s multi-year Reconsidering the Rules of Space project was made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. Current Academy research focuses on science and global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education. With headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy’s work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business and public affairs from around the world. (




Reconsidering the Rules of Space

John David Steinbruner