The Biden-Harris administration has unveiled its space priority framework, which gives an overview of how the administration plans to develop and implement national space policy and strategy going forward, including protecting space-related critical infrastructure and strengthening the security of the nation’ space industrial base.

The framework emphasized that the nation seeks to enhance the security and resilience of space systems that provide or support critical infrastructure from malicious activities and natural hazards. To this end, the U.S. will also enhance the protection of critical terrestrial infrastructure from space weather events, disrupting services such as electric power, telecommunications, water supply, health care, and transportation.

Space systems are an essential component of U.S. critical infrastructure because they directly provide important services that enable other critical infrastructure sectors and industries. Yet space-related assets were not considered one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors designated by the Presidential Policy Directive 21. Yet because space assets are now integrated into almost all essential sectors and functions a recent white paper by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance argued that the Federal government should classify U.S. space systems as critical infrastructure.

Additionally, the administration also vowed to “work with the commercial space industry and other non-governmental space developers and operators to improve the cybersecurity of space systems, ensure efficient spectrum access, and strengthen the resilience of supply chains across the nation’s space industrial base,” the statement noted.

And to bolster space mission assurance, the U.S. will also leverage new commercial space capabilities and services to meet national security requirements and deepen the integration of U.S. national security space capabilities and activities with its allies and partners.

President Biden also signed an executive order expanding the membership of the National Space Council as part of efforts to harness space technologies to advance science and math education and tackle climate change. The group that usually focuses on national security, space exploration, and commerce will also include the secretaries of Education, Labor, Agriculture and Interior, and the national climate adviser.

Additionally, according to the framework, the U.S. will engage diplomatically with strategic competitors to enhance stability in outer space. This comes as calls for enhanced security for space systems following Russian action, which created thousands of pieces of debris that pose new hazards in an increasingly congested low-Earth orbit.

“We must demand responsibility from all space-faring nations,” Vice President Kamala Harris said during the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council on Dec 1st. “We must expand rules and norms on safety and security, on transparency and cooperation, to include military, commercial and civil space activity.”

The administration vowed that U.S. national security space operations would continue to comply with applicable international law and demonstrate leadership in the responsible use of space and stewardship of the space environment.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.