Presidential Directive/NSC-37, "National Space Policy," May 11, 1978.



[Editorial headnote: This directive resulted from a comprehensive review of U.S. space policy and programs undertaken during the early months of the Carter administration. It dealt primarily with the relationships among the civilian and national security portions of the national space program; its policy guidance with respect to the national security aspects of the effort were highly classified. The review was carried out under the auspices of the National Security Council, and established a National Security Council Policy Review Committee chaired by the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Frank Press, as the mechanism for space policy formulation. Available in NASA Historical Reference Collection, History Office, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. Page references to original document in brackets.]


May 11, 1978

Presidential Directive/NSC-37

SUBJECT: National Space Policy (U)

This directive establishes national policies which shall guide the conduct of United States activities in and related to the space programs and activities discussed below. The objectives of these policies are (1) to advance the interests of the United States through the exploration and use of space and (2) to cooperate with other nations in maintaining the freedom of space for all activities which enhance the security and welfare of mankind.

1. The United States space program shall be conducted in accordance with the following basic principles. (U)

[2] a. [paragraph deleted during declassification review]
b. The exploration and use of outer space in support of the national well-being and policies of the United States. (U)
c. Rejection of any claims to sovereignty over outer space or over celestial bodies, or any portion thereof, and rejection of any limitations on the fundamental right to acquire data from space. (U)
d. The space systems of any nation are national property and have the right of passage through and operations in space without interference. Purposeful interference with operational space systems shall be viewed as an infringement upon sovereign rights. (U)
e. The United States will pursue Activities in space in support of its right of self-defense. (U)
f. [paragraph deleted during declassification review]
g. The United States will pursue space activities to increase scientific knowledge, develop useful civil applications of space technology, and maintain United States leadership in space. (U)
h. The United States will conduct international cooperative space-related activities that are beneficial to the United States scientifically, politically, economically, and/or militarily. (U)
i. [paragraph deleted during declassification review]
j. [paragraph deleted during declassification review]
[3] k. Close coordination, cooperation, and information exchange will be maintained among the space sectors to avoid unnecessary duplication and to allow maximum cross-utilization, in compliance with security and policy guidance, of all capabilities. (U)

2. [remainder of page deleted during declassification review]

[4] 3. [paragraph deleted during declassification review]

4. The United States shall conduct civil space programs to increase the body of scientific knowledge about the earth and the universe; to develop and operate civil applications of space technology; to maintain United States leadership in space science, applications, and technology; and to further United States domestic and foreign policy objectives. The following policies shall govern the conduct of the civil space program. (U)

a. The United States shall encourage domestic commercial exploitation of space capabilities and systems for economic benefit and to promote the technological position of the United States, except that all United States earth-oriented remote sensing satellites will require United States Government authorization and supervision of regulation. (U)
b. [paragraph deleted during declassification review]
c. Data and results from the civil space programs will be provided the widest practical dissemination, except where specific exceptions defined by legislation, Executive Order, or directive apply. (U)
d. [paragraph deleted during declassification review]
[5] e. [paragraph deleted during declassification review]
f. [paragraph deleted during declassification review]

5. The NSC Policy Review Committee shall meet when appropriate to provide a forum to all federal agencies for their policy views; to review and advise on proposed changes to national space policy; to resolve issues referred to the Committee; and to provide for orderly and rapid referral of open issues to the President for decision as necessary. The PRC will meet at the call of the Chairman for these purposes, and when so convened, will be chaired by the Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy. (U)

/signed/

Jimmy Carter


For additional information contact Roger D. Launius, NASA Chief Historian, rlaunius@codei.hq.nasa.gov

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