Keith's note: It has been more than a month since the Pioneering Space National Summit was held in Washington, DC - an event whose attendees and discussions have remained more or less secret. Other than a paragraph with a bunch of random buzz words nothing has been heard from this group of space illuminati. Its as if their secret meeting never even happened.
Now there is yet another closed door, off-the-record event being held in Washington in an undisclosed location for 2 days this week titled "Humans Orbiting Mars" sponsored by the Planetary Society (an organization that was not included in the list of sponsors for the earlier event for some strange reason). Once again many NASA civil servants will be in attendance and speaking in an official capacity as government officials - but we'll never know what they say since the rest of us are not special enough to be invited - or allowed to listen in. Yet this event - just like its already-evaporating predecessor - has assigned itself with the task of setting space policy priorities for a space program paid for by 300 million people.
But why should the rest of us need to know what they are doing? After all, America's space policy is so well-coordinated, long-range, inclusive, strategically sound, publicly popular, bipartisan and Congressionally supported, that the citizenry doesn't need to be involved, right?
Will this second secret space event end up like the first? The first event's organizers are clearly enamored with their own imaginary stature within the space community and have a constant need to hold clandestine space policy cabals. The second event is organized by the Planetary Society, an organization with a membership much larger and diverse than all of the other groups combined - and they have a tendency to do much more out in the open. From what I understand the Planetary Society event has many of the same tired voices and usual suspects that always seem to frequent these space policy events - but with some newer voices added. I am told that much more of this second event's discussions will eventually be made semi-public. Lets wait and see.
Either way, this troubling tendency for self-proclaimed space advocates and NASA civil servants to privately meet where there is no scrutiny or transparency needs to change. This all needs to be done in the sunlight so that the rest of us know what is going on with our nation's space program - not just by a self-selected few. There will never be a space policy that everyone agrees with - the same goes for any national policy. But throwing the same bunch of people in a room again and again without any outside input is just begging for intellectual inbreeding - which is exactly what space policy has engaged in for the past few decades.
And just so we are clear about this: I am also part of the problem that I rant on about. I am just another self-appointed voice. I do not represent the broader populace. Without the engaged support of the broader populace this space policy meeting also will end up evaporating in the heat of its own irrelevance.
- Good News Everyone: Another Closed Door Humans to Mars Thing, earlier post
- More Choir Practice in an Echo Chamber by the Usual Suspects, earlier post
- Yet Another Space Group: The Space Illuminati, earlier post
- Alliance for Space Development Revealed (Yawn), earlier post
- Recent Space Poll: The Public is Not Always in Synch With Space Advocates, earlier post
- Pioneering Space National Summit Details Emerge, earlier post
- Yet Another Plan For Outer Space, earlier post