The Washington Free Beacon is reporting that a new report by Center for a New American Security has concluded that encouraging commercial Space exploration will enhance America’s strategic edge over Russia and China in space. The Trump administration is already pursuing a strategy of using commercial companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin as partners for its plans for deep space exploration. Initiatives such as partly funding the development of the SpaceX Raptor engine will enhance military space as well.

Regulations should be streamlined and made more straightforward to follow.

One of the suggestions in the report is for regulations to be reformed to pave the way for commercial space activities. The Free Beacon Story mentions that while the Outer Space Treaty prohibits declarations of national sovereignty on celestial bodies such as the moon, it is less specific about private companies. The treaty does make national governments responsible for the activities of private players in space, however. The Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 allows commercial companies to own minerals they mine from the moon or asteroids, for example. Access to strategic minerals such as platinum group metals from space sources would constitute an advantage to any country that possesses it.

How innovation from commercial space companies enhances national security.

The threat posed by countries such as Russia and China to American space assets is genuine. Both nations are developing space weapons that could destroy communications, navigation, and reconnaissance satellites, creating an advantage in any future conflict.

Innovations such as reusable space launch systems being built by SpaceX, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance can enable the military to counter these weapons and to replace American space assets that fall prey to enemy action cheaply and quickly.

New satellite technology, developed by the private sector, could make American space assets more resilient and harder to eliminate by an enemy in a future conflict.

Satellites are becoming smaller, allowing for systems that are more dispersed and therefore harder to take down.

Trump’s business background provides some reason for hope.

Various presidential administrations have supported commercial space since the Reagan era, with that support increasing due to the Bush-era Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems program and the Obama-era Commercial Crew Program. The expectation is that the Trump administration will expand that support for commercial space to operations beyond low Earth orbit, starting with partnerships with private companies to provide lunar landers. The expansion of America’s economic sphere to the moon and ultimately beyond will also enhance the country’s national security as well as the strength of its economy.