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An Absence

One of my ongoing themes is that space is not politically important. Apparently the incoming administration agrees. It isn't mentioned anywhere at the transition web site. I poked around in "Technology," "Energy and the Environment," and couldn't find anything about civil space, or NASA. The only discussion of space that I could find was under "Defense":

Ensure Freedom of Space: An Obama-Biden administration will restore American leadership on space issues, seeking a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites. He will thoroughly assess possible threats to U.S. space assets and the best options, military and diplomatic, for countering them, establishing contingency plans to ensure that U.S. forces can maintain or duplicate access to information from space assets and accelerating programs to harden U.S. satellites against attack.

A "worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites" would be unenforceable--it's pie in the sky. And there's no way to "harden U.S. satellites against attack" unless we come up with much lower costs to orbit. Does the new administration consider Operationally Responsive Space to be part of the solution? And will they take it seriously?

In any event, space policy in general seems to be a tabula rasa, other than campaign promises, so maybe there's an opportunity to write some and get it added to the site.


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Bryan Lovely wrote:

A worldwide ban on anti-satellite weapons will only be enforceable against ourselves. Even if never passed into law, any and every antisat weapons system will be protested on the basis of the administration's fond wishes.

As usual, international treaties (or even the wish for them) will be used only as a stick to beat the US.

Carl Pham wrote:

A "world-wide ban on ASATs"?

Christ, here comes Nuclear Freeze II. Gun control for orbit. And it works so well down here in, say, the District of Columbia or New York City.

Isn't that just like a leftist? We've got a Nonproliferation Treaty here on Earth, a "worldwide ban" on far more lethal weapons than mere ASATs. And it's in big trouble, what with Pakistan and North Korea and Iran.

But do our clever devil friends want to actually make that earthly ban stick, enforce it effectively? Well, no. That would be hard. Might involve less shaking of hands after historic signing of treaty and more angry close-door meetings between diplomats, more fractious debate, threats and counter-threats, my God even the possibility of military action.

These people are just not serious. They're the West Wing Presidency, everyone looking good and looking busy, being "historic" all over the place -- but not, in fact, accomplishing anything actually useful.

Neil H. wrote:

I'm actually kind of surprised (and more than a little worried) about the lack of space items on the transition page, especially since the Obama campaign had previously released a fairly comprehensive space policy doc:

Karl Hallowell wrote:

I just made the same observation on the NASA Spaceflight forum.

Here's another missing piece: environmental and climate research. At a glance, Obama is proposing new spending (creating green jobs and technologies at $150 billion over ten years, developing and subsidizing hybrid vehicles at up to $7000 each) and a huge regulation burden (80% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2050, via cap and trade). But what's his plan for coming up with the knowledge that will back up these ambitious programs? It's too early to say, but there's a chance that science will prove as inconvenient to this administration as it was to the last.

red wrote:

I don't think the Obama campaign site ever had space policy as one of the main issues, or even an "additional issue". The transition page "issues" seem to be a copy of the original campaign site "issues", at least from a spot check/comparison I did on a few miscellaneous sections.

However, there is a space policy document on the original campaign site:

I don't know how to get to it other than with a search engine; it always seemed to be an "orphan" issue document to me. I also don't know if it can be found anywhere on the transition site. I also don't have any idea how committed Obama is to the space policy.

The campaign space document linked above does mention Operationally Responsive Space:

"Protecting America's Space Assets: Recognizing their vulnerability, Obama will work to protect our
assets in space by pursuing new technologies and capabilities that allow us to avoid attacks and recover from them quickly. The Operationally Responsive Space program, which uses smaller, more nimble space assets to make US systems more robust and less vulnerable is a way to invest in this capability."

Anyway, if you want to suggest space policy provisions, it's probably a good idea to start with the document they had in the campaign and suggest changes as appropriate.

Bald Tires wrote:

As it was with JFK, so shall it be with BHO. Space will become important the day China lands astronauts on the moon and begins construction of a full-service restaurant there. The Chinese have wandered every land on Earth. They'll do the same in space.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on November 7, 2008 7:57 AM.

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