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Vice President Harris outlines space policy aimed at 'growing threats'

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Vice President Harris outlines space policy aimed at 'growing threats'
Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks during a National Space Council meeting at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Vice President Kamala Harris announced Wednesday a new framework for space policy aimed at addressing growing threats in space posed by other nations, space debris and climate change.

Harris outlined the framework before the U.S. National Space Council, which she chairs, in Washington, D.C., during her first meeting with the council Wednesday afternoon.

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Harris took aim at Russia in clear terms during her address. The new space policy framework comes on the heels of a Russian anti-satellite test Nov. 15, which destroyed one of Russia's own satellites and created a cloud of space debris that continues to threaten astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station.

Harris said the Russian test was an "irresponsible act, which endangered the satellites of other nations as well as astronauts in the International Space Station." She said new space policy "must demand responsibility from all spacefaring nations."

Harris also focused remarks on science and technology education and on NASA efforts to track and combat climate change.

"The truth is the United States used to lead," Harris said. "I said past tense, 'used to lead' the world on innovation. But right now, our nation is falling behind. As others develop their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workforce."

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The Department of Transportation, through the Federal Aviation Administration, will address space safety and orbital debris through new regulations, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said during the meeting.

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"The idea, which we hope to be ready to propose in spring of 2022, is to make sure we're not creating unnecessary debris that would inhibit future space operations, and that we have the means to take care of what is placed into orbit," Buttigieg said.

The new U.S. Space Priorities Framework announced by Harris says the United States "will demonstrate how space activities can be conducted in a responsible, peaceful, and sustainable manner."

"Confrontation or conflict, however, is not inevitable," the new framework states. "To deter aggression against U.S., allied and partner interests ... the United States will accelerate its transition to a more resilient national security space posture and strengthen its ability to detect and attribute hostile acts in space."

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President Joe Biden also signed an order Wednesday adding five new members to the council, according to the White House official. The new members are the secretaries of education, labor, agriculture and the interior, as well as the national climate adviser, Gina McCarthy.

Out-of-this-world images from space

The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a flyaround of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on November 8. Photo courtesy of NASA

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