American students speak; European policy developments

On Thursday the organization Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) released a letter to the White House and Congress signed by 280 of its members from universities across the US, voicing its opinion on space policy. The students offer various recommendations in the letter, most of which are related to supporting commercial spaceflight as a driver of the economy and inspiration for students. "We believe that companies in the commercial spaceflight sector such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin offer huge opportunities for us as students, and for our nation," they note in the letter. "We strongly believe that NASA and the nation both benefit greatly from investing in commercial spaceflight programs that will allow astronauts to fly on commercial vehicles; and we urge you to fully fund and support those programs." In Britain, the UK Space Agency officially became an executive agency within the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills today, taking responsibility for most of the country's space activities. The agency also released a five-year strategy for comment, all of which involve growth of some kind or another for the country's space economy. In Scotland, though, they're more interested in government plans to reform the Outer Space Act, which could make it easier for companies like Virgin Galactic to perform launches from UK territory. Virgin has previously expressed an interest in flying from RAF Lossiemouth, an air force base in Scotland, but has cited current law as an impediment to that. The European Commission is expected to outline plans next week to strengthen the EU's role in spaceflight by improving the EU's space policy. According to a draft document obtained by EurActive, the EU's current efforts "are too piecemeal" and aren't linked to the EU's political, economic, and social issues.

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