The National Space Council

They had their first “meeting” today (scare quotes because it was basically a scripted dog and pony show). Bob Zimmerman has some thoughts. Mine: The tension between the old cost-plus dinosaurs and commercial space within the administration was on full display, but everyone recognizes that we’ve shifted back to the moon. “Civil” space remains focused on pork, “commercial” space is focused appropriately on cost reduction. Nothing new on the milspace side to anyone who’s been following it, but I’m sure it was news to several of the council members.

[Update a while later]

Here’s Pence’s statement, but it’s behind a paywall at the WSJ.

[Late-afternoon update]

Here’s Ken Chang’s report. Check out the kicker.

[Update Friday morning]

Eric Berger: The history of presidential pland to “go back to the moon.” Yes, you should be skeptical. SpaceX or Blue Origin will beat NASA back to the moon. And that’s not a bad thing.

5 thoughts on “The National Space Council”

  1. From Zimmerman: The second action was a commitment to review, in the next 45 days, the entire regulatory bureaucracy that private companies must face. This was linked to the testimony from officials from SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Sierra Nevada.

    This is where an Executive Order might be useful for the treaty concern that any given activity in space must be regulated. An E.O. could tell the regulatory agencies not to deny private actors access to space on the erroneous grounds that no regulator will oversee them.

  2. Mr. Pence did not lay out a timetable for when American astronauts would step on the moon again or propose a strategy for getting there, much less broach the topic of a price tag.

    It’s the group’s first public event. They’ve barely done any work yet and NASA doesn’t have an administrator. Its good to note that an over arching strategy, with tactics to achieve it, timelines things should take place in or goals met rather than a timeline, and a price tag weren’t mentioned. But it should also be noted that no one should have expected all those things laid out.

    Some people also seem to want a single fixed course but really there needs to be flexibility built in because time scales are so long and technology changes.

    Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, far from describing a neglected space program in the United States, highlighted her company’s meteoric rise in recent years, with 13 launches in 2017. “In short, there is a renaissance underway right now in space,” she said.

    SpaceX isn’t NASA. While NASA has helped SpaceX, the accomplishments of SpaceX are not NASA’s accomplishments. Just because SpaceX and some other companies are doing well, doesn’t mean NASA hasn’t had serious problems over the last eight years and longer.

    Not sure why the NYT can’t be even handed here. Oh wait, TDS. The Trump admin has to be portrayed as retarded even though all the space cadets know that NASA has problems.

  3. Berger spends most of his time talking about how the plans of one administration don’t always get carried by the next. He also notes that congress is also problematic.

    When we look at things that have survived – shuttle, ISS, SLS/Orion – the problem is that they serve only one customer. Some companies do well but the industry as a whole isn’t being enabled.

    An overarching strategy is needed but it also has to be flexible. Every step along the way can’t be planned out because the timelines are too long and technology will change. The focus also can’t just be on NASA because success only comes when the space industry is successful.

    IMO, a COTS like approach to anything NASA does is the way to go. This allows for competition in providing service, milestone based funding, payment for services, and most important, companies retain control of their products.

    This means things can happen on shorter timelines that Presidents and congress can influence but placing more control with companies means that progress can happen regardless of the direction government takes. NASA will have the things they want to do but NASA will benefit in the long run by enabling others to do the things they want to as well.

    The more activities taking place in space means that there are more opportunities for NASA, researchers, and companies. This will create a resiliency from political and economic changes. To solve the problems Berger mentions, we need less control of the process, not more of it.

  4. If NASA focuses on national security that’s enough to expect from them. The cost plus dinos just want the money to keep flowing. New realities will fix the old unsustainable problems (not soon enough.)

    The admin doesn’t need controversy where the solutions going to happen regardless. At least the council will add voice to the issues.

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