President Bush has approved a new National Space Policy that emphasizes security issues and encourages private investment.
The updated policy rejects the development of arms control agreements that could restrict or limit U.S. access to or use of space. It also calls for the development of space capabilities that support U.S. defense and intelligence initiatives.
White House spokesman Tony Snow Wednesday said the update does not represent a policy shift. He stressed that the notion of using space for defense purposes is different from the idea of using space for weapons purposes.
The new program is the first full revision of the nation's overall space policy in a decade. The policy was authorized six weeks ago.
A National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said the update was needed to reflect the fact that space has become an even more important component of U.S. economic, national and homeland security.
The policy also says the United States is committed to the peaceful use of outer space by all nations.
Unclassified details are posted on the Office of Science and Technology Policy web site.
Critics of the Bush administration tell the Washington Post newspaper that they believe the policy could lead the U.S. to develop, test and even deploy space weapons.
Analysts say the U.S. position flows in part from the fact that so many key weapons systems are now dependent on information and communications from orbiting satellites.