The White House National Space Council has released a new strategy that seeks to protect the Earth and other planetary bodies from biological contamination associated with space exploration activities and ensure safe and sustainable commercialization and exploration of space.
The National Strategy for Planetary Protection has three objectives and the first calls for the U.S. to avoid “forward contamination” through the development and implementation of risk assessment and science-based guidelines and an update to the interagency payload review process.
The second objective seeks to prevent “backward contamination” through the development of a Restricted Return Program, while the last objective calls for the incorporation of the private sector’s needs and perspective through feedback solicitation and creation of guidelines for private sector activities.
For the first objective, the government should come up with a forward contamination framework and risk-informed decision-making implementation strategies for human missions within one year.
“Meeting the strategy’s objectives will ensure a cohesive national effort that balances scientific discovery, human exploration, and commercial activity in space, while meeting applicable international and domestic obligations,” the strategy’s fact sheet reads.