- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2018

President Trump is deregulating space.

Mr. Trump on Thursday signed a space policy directive aimed at boosting America exploration of space by streamlining regulations on commercial space activity.

He’s made cutting federal regulations a cornerstone of his presidency and now is expanding it to the Commerce and Transportation departments’ rules for commercial space companies, which face regulatory hurdles that include launch licensing and payload approval.

The policy directive, which is the second space policy directive for the Trump administration, builds on the president’s plan to send crewed missions to Mars and beyond, according to the administration.

“This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint. We will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars,” Mr. Trump said in a prepared statement.

When Mr. Trump last year announced his plan to revamp NASA and return to crewed space missions, including to Mars and into deep space, he called for more public-private partnerships to get the job done.

Mr. Trump has made space exploration a priority, shifting from the Obama administration’s focus on robotics to a focus on restoring crewed space flights.

NASA hasn’t had its own spacecraft since retiring the space shuttle program shortly after Endeavour flew its last mission June 1, 2011.

Mr. Trump also has repeatedly floated the idea of a military “Space Force.”

Loosening restrictions on commercial space ventures is a key part of the plan to return to manned space exploration, said Scott N. Pace, executive secretary of the National Space Council.

He said the deregulation push was born from the budget realities.

“This is not going to be a Cold War race where we drop almost unlimited amounts of money on a problem,” he said.

“So if we are going to do our space exploration activity, we need to grow the economy. And one of the best ways we know to grow the economy is to deregulate it [and] streamline it.”

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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