Media Casualties Mount
Administration Split On Europe Invasion
Administration In Crisis Over Burgeoning Quagmire
Congress Concerned About Diversion From War On Japan
Pot, Kettle On Line Two...
Allies Seize Paris
Gore Book Sales Tank, Supporters Claim Unfair Tactics
Satan Files Lack Of Defamation Suit
Why This Blog Bores People With Space Stuff
A New Beginning
My Hit Parade
Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds)
James Lileks Bleats
Winds Of Change (Joe Katzman)
Little Green Footballs (Charles Johnson)
Eject Eject Eject (Bill Whittle)
Alan Boyle (MSNBC)
Space Politics (Jeff Foust)
Space Transport News (Clark Lindsey)
NASA Space Flight
A Voyage To Arcturus (Jay Manifold)
Dispatches From The Final Frontier (Michael Belfiore)
Personal Spaceflight (Jeff Foust)
The Flame Trench (Florida Today)
Rocket Forge (Michael Mealing)
COTS Watch (Michael Mealing)
Curmudgeon's Corner (Mark Whittington)
Tales of the Heliosphere
Out Of The Cradle
Space For Commerce (Brian Dunbar)
The Speculist (Phil Bowermaster)
Spacecraft (Chris Hall)
Space Pragmatism (Dan Schrimpsher)
Eternal Golden Braid (Fred Kiesche)
Carried Away (Dan Schmelzer)
Laughing Wolf (C. Blake Powers)
Chair Force Engineer (Air Force Procurement)
JesusPhreaks (Scott Bell)
Nanobot (Howard Lovy)
Lagniappe (Derek Lowe)
Geek Press (Paul Hsieh)
Redwood Dragon (Dave Trowbridge)
Turned Up To Eleven (Paul Orwin)
Cowlix (Wes Cowley)
Quark Soup (Dave Appell)
Assymetrical Information (Jane Galt and Mindles H. Dreck)
Marginal Revolution (Tyler Cowen et al)
Man Without Qualities (Robert Musil)
Knowledge Problem (Lynne Kiesling)
Cut On The Bias (Susanna Cornett)
The Funny Pages
Cox & Forkum
Day By Day
Happy Fun Pundit
Amish Tech Support (Lawrence Simon)
Scrapple Face (Scott Ott)
Quasipundit (Adragna & Vehrs)
England's Sword (Iain Murray)
Daily Pundit (Bill Quick)
Daimnation! (Damian Penny)
Z+ Blog (Andrew Zolli)
The Kolkata Libertarian
Midwest Conservative Journal
Protein Wisdom (Jeff Goldstein et al)
Dean's World (Dean Esmay)
Yippee-Ki-Yay (Kevin McGehee)
Spleenville (Andrea Harris)
Random Jottings (John Weidner)
On the Third Hand (Kathy Kinsley, Bellicose Woman)
Inappropriate Response (Moira Breen)
Inadvertent Comic Relief
Warblogger Watcher (Cowardly Anonymous Idiotarians)
Other Worthy Weblogs
Ain't No Bad Dude (Brian Linse)
A libertarian reads the papers
Anna Franco Review
Ben Kepple's Daily Rant
Dropscan (Shiloh Bucher)
End the War on Freedom
Insolvent Republic of Blogistan
James Reuben Haney
Mind over what matters
Page Fault Interrupt
Sand In The Gears(Anthony Woodlief)
The Blogs of War
The Fly Bottle
The Illuminated Donkey
What she really thinks
Where HipHop & Libertarianism Meet
Zem : blog
Space Policy Links
The Space Review
The Space Show
Space Frontier Foundation
Space Policy Digest BBS
USS Clueless (Steven Den Beste)
Unremitting Verse (Will Warren)
World View (Brink Lindsay)
The Last Page
More Than Zero (Andrew Hofer)
Pathetic Earthlings (Andrew Lloyd)
Spaceship Summer (Derek Lyons)
The New Space Age (Rob Wilson)
Rocketman (Mark Oakley)
Site designed by
Space Transportation Commentary
Frank Sietzen is the new President of the Space Transportation Association, a trade association that promotes the U.S. launch industry. He gave a speech today at the FAA Space Transportation Forecast Conference, that has some good policy recommendations, but some troubling ones as well.
In the aftermath of the dark events of September 11th, the crucial role that the aerospace industry plays in the American economy was made plain to us all. In an administration that didn't seem to discover us, or who thought a space program was closet space in the old EEOB, space suddenly became a critical element in national economic stability, and as an important tool in winning the war against terrorism.
The new leader selected for NASA, Sean O'Keefe, repeatedly referred to his agency as an element of U.S. national security. Vice-President Cheney confirmed this emphasis at O'Keefe's swearing in a few weeks back, as has several recent studies and reports, especially SecDef Rumsfeld's report of a year ago.
We at STA welcome this emphasis, because it suggests that it will bring new attention to the state of our industry, and how the administration, the Congress, and our industry itself can join together to bring new life and new capabilities to our work.
I welcome it as well, if it results in a more focused policy toward the high frontier.
This follow's FAA's landmark study last year that charted spacelift's role in the U.S. economy, a staggering $60 plus billion as measured in jobs and economic activity.
Unfortunately, much of that is Shuttle and Air Force launch budget, and the emphasis is more on job creation/maintenance than on reducing the cost of access or creating wealth.
But like every other element of the aerospace industry, space transportation needs a coordinated effort to address our weaknesses and set us anew on the path to opening up access to space.
The Bush administration, thus, must match this rhetoric about the importance of space to national security with more than words. Therefore, the Space Transportation Association is today calling for the administration to reestablish a central organizing body for space within the Executive Office of the President modeled on the previous National Space Council. Space issues clearly need an emphasis and advocates in the White House beyond any one single agency or one agency's space agenda. Vice-President Cheney could chair such a group to give it the attention and the visibility that space issues deserve.
I agree with this recommendation, but I don't think it's going to happen. And while it would be helpful, it's not necessary, as long as the agencies are coordinated in some manner. It may be possible for Cheney to play this role without the formal re-creation of the Space Council.
If the administration means what it said during O'Keefe's swearing in about it believing in NASA, it can also act to make the NASA administrator a cabinet-level post. That is, if it really means what it says about space and space matters.
Until we decide what NASA's overall role in space policy should be, this would be premature, and possibly inappropriate. We have to take a much broader view of federal space policy, and consider the roles of all government agencies. After that, if we decide to make an explicit decision that NASA should take the lead (I certainly wouldn't recommend it), then it might make sense to make the head of that agency a cabinet level. But it's much too early to determine that now.
This emphasis on space as an element of national security also means that we should see more U.S.-led space programs and priorities, managed here at home with clear objectives and clear schedules to match. The old multilateral approach of the Clinton years might be fine for foreign policy objectives, but in the final analysis it should be U.S. industry that benefits first and foremost from space dollars, and our technology base that is enhanced and grows as a result.
Of course, such emphasis on our home-grown needs is a two-way street. We therefore would hope that our own members and American primes would seek partnerships with our own U.S. subs whenever possible before looking offshore.
I am not saying that use of foreign space assets or partnering with foreign suppliers is bad. Quite the contrary. But I am saying is that is isn't always good for the U.S. industrial base.It cannot be in the national security interests of the United States for us to wake up in a few years to find a single U.S. launch vehicle maker, or one liquid rocket engine maker, or one solid rocket builder. We've seen the results of consolidation, and now it is time, not for more diversification, but to make better use of our own industry. To give more attention to its needs, how we can grow it, how we can make it stronger and more competitive and solid.
Not sure exactly what Frank's proposing here, but to the degree that it constitutes some kind of protectionism, that would be a tragic mistake. The way to grow domestic capability is not to coddle the industry (and few industries on the planet are more of a hothouse plant than aerospace), but to put into place policies that will broaden markets and grow it.
The problem with space is not that it's consolidated--that's a symptom. It consolidated because there was insufficient business to support as many players as it had (though both NASA and the Air Force were actively encouraging mergers after the end of the Cold War, the most notable and mistaken of which was the United Space Alliance that currently operates Shuttle under NASA contract).
This renewed emphasis on space should include Capitol Hill. There are too many committees spread across the House and Senate that deal with U.S. aerospace programs and policies. We therefore, call upon the Congress to look to reform the existing committee structure to better manage their legislative and budget oversight functions.
Another good suggestion that will go absolutely nowhere.
Our political leaders have been calling for consolidation in our industry for years. Well, they got it. Now it is time for them to do a bit of consolidation of their own!
The way aerospace programs are managed also needs some reforms. We find attractive the idea of blending aeronautics and aerospace technology research and the general and commercial aviation programs into a national development of a single supersonic-to-low orbit rocket vehicle that can support both the passenger and cargo markets. And such a program should get a new program office not nestled inside any one agency or bureaucracy.
I am vehemently opposed to this. The history of government developing launch systems is not an encouraging one, and there's no reason to think that what Frank proposes here will be any better. Also, the notion that there should be a "vehicle" to get us to space is the kind of thinking that got us into trouble with Shuttle, then National Aerospace Plane, then X-33. We don't need a "vehicle." We need an industry, and markets to support it.
...But the rhetoric about aviation and space being brought together to help fight terrorism should be followed by a stable, funded, long term vision that results in a high volume human and cargo reusable vehicle in the next decade of this century.
Such a vehicle, and a strong industry that embraces it, is the best answer to long term U.S. space industry competitiveness.
Again with "the vehicle." No, the best answer to industrial competitiveness is to wean the industry away from the government mammary, and to encourage the development of many vehicles. No bureaucrat at NASA can know what the most cost-effective space transports will look like, nor should anyone pretend to. That is for a market to determine. What the government needs to do is to create that market.
We are also encouraged by the new commission on the future of the aerospace industry. With Bob Walker as its chair, and with the work of such commissioners as John Douglass and Buzz Aldrin, we think that creative, realistic solutions to our industry's concerns will emerge from their deliberations. Solutions such as tax-free bonds to stimulate entrepreneurial launch firms, and making infrastructure repair and reinvigoration as national space goals, as important to our future in space as returning to the Moon or heading for Mars, either of which will require a competitive launch system and the spaceport to send it there.
This makes some sense, though the devil's always in the details of tax incentives. The problem with tax incentives for entrepreneurs is that taxes are usually the least of an entrepreneur's problems. The only way to make this effective is to ensure that investors get an attractive tax break from their space investments that can offset other income. That will be a tough sell politically.
Overall, I hope that STA will be taking a more private-enterprise approach in the future. I suspect that, unfortunately, there's some pressure from some of their members (e.g., Boeing, Lockmart) to not deviate too far from conventional wisdom. We really need a different organization to look after the interests of space entrepeneurs, because their interests are far too divergent in some ways from those benefitting from the status quo to be properly represented by a single trade association.Posted by Rand Simberg at February 06, 2002 08:30 AM
When "space" goes commercial, we will see all of the spectacular sci-fi things we read about in the books.
Enough to dwarf the govt and its flying triangles and all.
No one can mismanage anything better that govt.
:) JPosted by JB at February 6, 2002 05:11 PM
Off the wall, maybe, but . . .
Imagine some enterprising group gets a couple of craft into orbit, and on the way to the moon, or maybe Mars (the idea is not so far fetched) . . .
Or gets their own spce station in orbit . . .
What then? I would love to see the govt's reaction.
Except for war, at which it is extremely adept, the govt is useful for little more than income redistribution.
LOL JBPosted by JB at February 6, 2002 05:27 PM
The big barrier is frequency of launch. Other than the military, there is no need for frequent launches to space. Until someone builds a low-cost launcher (tens of dollars per pound) there will not be demand for frequent launches. If you build a RLV and fly it six times, we all know what we end up with. Something very expensive.Posted by Rich Pournelle at February 8, 2002 04:44 PM
Post a comment