Mitchell Institute Releases New Policy Paper: Major Policy Issues in Evolving Global Space Operations

ARLINGTON, Va (December 5, 2017) — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce the release of its newest policy paper today, Major Policy Issues in Evolving Global Space Operations, by James A. Vedda, Ph.D, of The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy, and Peter L. Hays, Ph.D., of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute. The paper, a collaboration between the Mitchell Institute and The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy, is an authoritative examination of the state of US and international space policy, with Vedda and Hays closely analyzing many dynamic aspects of civil and national security space operations they believe will demand the attention of decision-makers in the near future, such as space traffic management, the expanded use of small satellites or “smallsats,” satellite and orbital vehicle proximity operations, debris concerns, counterspace threats, and norms of behavior.

The report, Vedda and Hays note in the introduction, is designed to inform decision-makers and other interested parties on how the US can develop national space policy to address an evolving space environment. The US and other powers are participants today in a “fundamental reordering” of many tenets and assumptions that have stood as long-standing attributes of US national space policy and international agreements, they note, and while the precise character and magnitude of these changes remain to be seen, “it is clear that the world is experiencing a transition in space development that has many moving parts.”

The Trump Administration, they write, must decide how the United States should apply limited resources and investment with regards to space in the years ahead, with an eye towards preserving America’s leadership role in space. As part of their research for this paper, Vedda and Hays surveyed over 30 experienced space subject matter experts across government, academia, the aerospace industry, the US military, NGOs and other sectors for their assessments and opinions on the issues defining today’s space environment. Despite the diversity of opinion the authors discovered, they note, several areas of consensus emerged and are presented in the paper’s findings, such as emphasizing that the US should continue to lead by example in space, the need to clarify roles among space actors, embracing emerging space technology, and updating classification regimes for space operations to facilitate greater cooperation. This policy paper is not intended to advocate for specific solutions, the authors note, but rather to go “beyond just highlighting the issues, and to present current thinking” on specific options for addressing them.

The Mitchell Institute Policy Papers is a series of occasional research papers presenting new thinking and proposals that respond to the emerging security and aerospace power challenges the US and its allies face in the 21st century. These papers are written for lawmakers, their staffs, policy professionals, business and industry leaders, academics, journalists, and the informed public. The series aims to provide in-depth policy insights and perspectives based on the experiences of the authors, accompanied by studious supporting research.

For more information on this series, contact Mitchell Institute’s Director of Publications Marc V. Schanz at or visit our website, at

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