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Origin:. Published by the Cato Institute with permission.

Barriers to space enterprise not only pose serious risks to the advancement of space commerce, but they discourage fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and capital. Many of these barriers originate with United States policies, laws, and regulations which have been evolving since the late 1960s. This paper, therefore, discusses the various barriers to space enterprise resulting from key policy, legal, and regulatory items. In addition, the Office of Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, the office that regulates commercial launches in the U.S, is highlighted in the discussion. The Strom Thurmond National Defense Act is also examined as it is responsible for several of the more recent barriers to space commerce. Not only does this act affect important business aspects of American satellite companies, but university students and commercial space companies are adversely impacted, especially in their use of the low-cost Russian Dniepr launcher.

Conflicts within U.S. government agencies and Congress are discussed as barriers to space commerce result from the actions of these organizations. Financial and market uncertainties are also discussed as they make commercial space ventures more risky and are certainly barriers to commercial space development. Misperceptions, many of which originate from official U.S. policies as well as statements made by authorities and leaders in the commercial space industry are examined as well.

In addition to the discussion regarding the existing barriers to space commerce, this paper points out that a potential barrier to space enterprise that may arise from the lack of business ethics in the commercial space industry. If an ethical approach to space development is not established, the commercial space industry runs the risk of attracting excessive government regulation which will certainly be a barrier to the industry.

This paper concludes by offering some suggestions for minimizing the effect of the existing barriers and for eliminating future barriers. A recommendation is also offered to those in the commercial space industry to supervise their own conduct when engaging in space commerce to avoid unnecessary government regulation.

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