NOAA Issues Commercial Space Policy

January 8, 2016 – Today, NOAA, released its commercial space policy, which sets a broad framework for use of commercial space-based approaches for the agency.

Changes in the commercial space services arena are happening rapidly, yielding new technical and business approaches to building, launching, and operating satellites, and selling private satellite capabilities as services. NOAA is interested in exploring these new business models to better understand how they might complement the agency’s current offerings.

The policy establishes critical components for engaging with the commercial sector: Designating the Office of Space Commerce as a single point of entry for commercial providers to streamline the process for easier engagement; establishes an open and transparent marketplace; defines guiding principals, implementation considerations, and strategic planning for potential commercial data buys; and, establishes demonstration projects to test and evaluate new potential data sources and provides an avenue to operational commercial data buys.

The policy applies to NOAA’s interaction with the commercial sector in the following areas:

  • Data Buys – An arrangement for the purchase of data or data products from a space-based remote sensing system or space-based remote sensing service provider.

  • Hosted Payloads – The use of available capacity on a satellite to accommodate an additional payload.

  • Rideshares – A shared orbital space launch of a hosted payload, a secondary payload, or a co-manifested mission on a single launch vehicle.

  • Launch Services – Services that deliver assets to the desired orbit in space.

  • The policy does not apply to the design, building, or operation of government-owned spacecraft, NOAA’s licensing of space-based private remote sensing systems, or to data transfer services, such as from ground stations to communications satellites solely for dissemination purposes.

    As demand for information about the changing state of our planet grows, NOAA strives to support and grow an observing enterprise that is flexible, responsive to evolving technologies, and economically sustainable. This policy will allow NOAA to seek solutions that meet this need while also supporting and upholding the data sharing commitments upon which we depend for global data and data products.

    NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.