The White House introduces the Space Priorities Framework while Vice President Kamala Harris chairs the first meeting of the Space Council

The Biden administration’s first National Space Council meets on Wednesday, with Vice President Kamala Harris outlining the White House’s approach to space policy.

Revived after two decades under the previous presidency, the National Space Council met eight times during the previous administration, often accompanying executive orders such as the return of US astronauts to the moon, the removal of space debris, and the use of space resources.

While Harris was chairing the meeting on Wednesday, the White House released a document entitled “United States Space Priorities Framework,” which outlines how the Biden administration plans to “develop national space policy and strategy for the future and implement “.

The Framework emphasizes that the US is trying to promote and protect the “data, products, and services from space” that “enable American businesses and American jobs in sectors as diverse as manufacturing, transportation, logistics, agriculture, finance, and communications create”.

In addition, the framework states that the US intends to openly distribute “earth observation data” in order to “support both national and international efforts to cope with the climate crisis”. Similarly, the White House document states that it will broadcast “space situational awareness” services “to an open data platform” hosted by a US agency to improve space security.

The increasing risk from space debris, as well as military activity in space, are two major issues after the Russian anti-satellite weapon (or ASAT) test last month. The Russian military destroyed a decommissioned satellite, doused low-earth orbit with shrapnel, and caused astronauts to seek shelter on the International Space Station when the cloud of debris passed. While US officials condemned the test, Russia has not yet suffered a severe reprimand for the demonstration.

The White House framework states that the US “wants to strengthen its ability to identify and map hostile actions in space”. But as for the consequences for other nations conducting military tests in orbit, the US will “work diplomatically with strategic competitors to increase stability in space” for the time being.

President Biden is also expected to sign an executive order on Wednesday to add five members to the National Space Council: Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Labor Secretary Martin Walsh, Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack, Home Secretary Deb Haaland and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy.