Keith's note: There is a strange conference "Pioneering Space National Summit" scheduled for 19-20 February at the Reagan Trade Center here in Washington DC. Lots of organizations are listed as sponsors. Oddly the agenda lists no speakers and simply talks about working groups that will "discuss" issues. Later, things will (apparently) be prioritized.
The website says that this event has "the explicit goal of creating a basic SpaceMap for the United States, and identifying strategic knowledge gaps to be overcome for this nation to successfully open the frontier beyond low Earth orbit to human development and settlement ... For this to happen those involved in all areas of space must move beyond current debates and battles over priorities, goals and participation and come to a basic set of agreements, addressing the reasons we choose to go into space, where in space we want to go and in what order ... etc."
Uh huh. Every time there is an Administration change looming space folks get the urge to try things like this. It never works. In the decades I have been around the space community I have never seen a strategy of any strategic value developed in the course of a 2 day free-for-all event open to everyone and anyone. No one agrees on enough things for such a consensus to be developed. And whatever the space folks do manage to produce just gets ignored - if for no other reason than someone was not involved or some group's favorite planet or project is not prominently mentioned. Besides, each new Administration starts more or less from scratch anyway and they want to change NASA's course from what the previous folks did (good or bad). Their policy priorities (or lack thereof) for space are rooted in plans that are focused on themes far more broad than what bounces around inside the heads of space advocates.
Oddly, when you go to the registration page it says "This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:" Nowhere on this website are you told how to get that password. So ... without the password how can you register? Emails sent to the address listed on the site are ignored. The site has been like this for weeks without this basic detail being fixed. If they cannot allow people to register for this conference I am certain that they are ill-equipped to do all of the more difficult tasks such as herding space people around in working groups and cracking the whip on consensus development.
Keith's update: One of our readers discovered that if you go to http://newworldsinstitute.org/ (there is no actual link to this organization from the meeting website to click on) that this is an invitation-only affair. As such you now have a deliberate effort to limit input - and that almost certainly guarantees that there will be space advocates who will be left out in the cold who will promptly denounce/ignore whatever this group puts out. Where is
AIAA? AIA? AAS? AAAS? Planetary Society? Mars Society? Space Foundation?, IEEE?, Challenger Center?, ASGSR?, AsMA?, ASE?, American Astronomical Society?
After ignoring my previous emails over the past few weeks I just got this response back "Thank you for your interest in the Pioneering Space National Summit. Registration is by invitation only, and is closed at this time." Oh well, I would not invite me either.
Ad Astra or Whatever.