Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at The Economist’s Space Economy Summit

Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at The Economist’s Space Economy Summit

Oct 12, 2023

Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at The Economist’s Space Economy Summit
Thu, 10/12/2023 – 12:26

Space commerce


Thursday, October 12, 2023

Office of Public Affairs

Don Graves

Hello and greetings from Washington. It’s my pleasure to address this summit and share how the Department of Commerce is helping to grow the space economy.

It’s our job at Commerce to improve America’s competitiveness so that our companies can succeed in the global economy. The commercial space industry is one of our key strategic priorities, as we want to ensure the United States remains a leader for businesses operating in space.

We have reorganized and elevated our Office of Space Commerce, under Director Richard DalBello, who has decades of experience in the industry. Richard also serves as my vice chair for a new Commercial Space Coordination Committee that we formed last year. It includes the heads of nearly every Commerce bureau, because our work expanding space commerce isn’t confined to one office, but involves international trade, economic development, broadband-expansion efforts, cybersecurity expertise, and even minority business outreach to expand our supplier base.

We have organized our space commerce efforts into five areas of focus.

First, we are working to coordinate regulatory functions.

In order to invest and compete, businesses need clarity, consistency, and transparency. We have strongly supported Vice President Harris’ work, through the National Space Council, to ensure the United States establishes a clear, modern, and comprehensive regulatory framework.

We have also increased and sped up our licensing of commercial remote sensing satellites, and eliminated more than 40 operating restrictions that had previously been imposed on U.S. imaging satellites, with plans to remove even more restrictions in the near future.

Second, we are growing the customer base for U.S. commercial space goods and services.

Last year, as part of the inaugural U.S.-France Comprehensive Space Dialogue held in Paris, we led a special session involving government and industry representatives from both nations. I personally briefed President Macron on the results of that event, which focused on identifying barriers that could be removed through governmental cooperation.

Based on that successful engagement, we organized another commercial space session with Japan during the U.S.-Japan Comprehensive Space Dialogue in Tokyo. We just held a U.S.-Africa Commercial Space Stakeholders Meeting two weeks ago, following up on a Space Forum that I moderated at last year’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. We are planning additional commercial space engagements with Korea, India, Singapore, the UK, the Quad, and others. As we grow these relationships, we also grow opportunities for the expansion of space commerce.

Third, we are improving space safety and sustainability.

Space situational awareness, or SSA, is an essential element of space traffic coordination for spaceflight safety and the sustainability of Earth’s increasingly congested orbits. In 2018, the Commerce Department was assigned responsibility for providing basic SSA services to commercial and civil space operators, a major new mission area that we are taking over from the DoD. With thousands of new satellites now being launched each year, we recognize the urgency of fulfilling this mission to prevent the next catastrophic collision in space.

In the past year, we have made strides in building what we are calling our Traffic Coordination System for Space, or TraCSS. This system will enable commercial growth by providing the data and alerts needed to keep space operations safe and sustainable. In addition, we are being very careful not to compete with the burgeoning commercial SSA market, but rather to leverage commercially available SSA software, data, and analytics to support our system. We recently awarded the first major contract for the cloud infrastructure that will contain the TraCSS elements and have more major acquisitions planned over the coming months.

Our fourth area of focus is about promoting innovation, which is foundational to everything we do at the Commerce Department.

As part of this work, we are buying commercially available satellite data to improve weather forecasting while at the same time fostering the growth of new markets for satellite services.

We also know that next-generation satellite systems – and new space enterprises built to service and work with those systems – are going to need spectrum to develop to their full potential. We are doing all that we can with the FCC and the ITU to ensure that spectrum is available both for federal and private sector missions.

Finally, we are advancing Earth observation capabilities to empower better decision making.

NOAA has been reimagining what its weather forecasting and climate monitoring satellite architecture could look like. NOAA has been engaging with the community and issued study contracts to develop a more advanced and agile architecture in Low Earth Orbit and for space weather.

We are building in on-ramps for new technology and opening the door to more data purchases, rideshares, and hosted payloads.

I hope it’s clear from my remarks today that the Commerce Department sees America’s commercial space industry as vital to our country’s continued global competitiveness.

We are pursuing new avenues for business, promoting innovation, and providing regulatory clarity, consistency and transparency that will allow the U.S. to remain the flag of choice in commercial space business.

Thank you for your time, and best wishes for the rest of the conference.

Bureaus and Offices

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Commercial Space

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