Kevin O'Connell Space News Op-Ed on Mission Authorization


SpaceNews Midjourney illustration

SpaceNews Midjourney illustration

via SpaceNews

April 11, 2023


Kevin O'Connell of Space Economy Rising, former director at the Office of Space Commerce, US Department of Commerce, as well as an Affiliate of the Space Enabled research group at the Media Lab, recently wrote an op-ed for SpaceNews in collaboration with other authors titled "Practical applications of a space mission authorization framework."  The article discusses the work of US government teams to examine how they determine which space activities will be approved to proceed by US organizations.

The article reads in part:

"The National Space Council recently completed three public listening sessions on the issue of In-Space Authorization and Supervision, often described broadly as mission authorization. These terms seem vague and bureaucratic, and mainly the purview of regulators and lawyers. However, given the importance that mission authorization plays in encouraging innovation in a rapidly growing space economy, it’s too important to be left to those folks alone.

Let’s demystify the concept and explain some of the practical aspects that we expect to happen as exciting new space activities come to market. Satellite refueling, human spaceflight, space nuclear power, and even asteroid mining are only a few examples of the missions that will drive the space economy from the half-trillion dollars it is today to between $1-3 trillion dollars over the next two decades. If today’s rapid pace of change continues, the space economy of 2040 will involve over 100,000 space objects in multiple orbits, include a robust set of permanent lunar activities, and extend benefits to us on Earth far greater than we’ve seen heretofore. Government regulation, including mission authorization, needs to enable these missions rather than hinder them."

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