Keith's note: This video from last week's Goddard Memorial Symposium features Marcia Smith, Editor, SpacePolicyOnline.com; Lori Garver, General Manager, ALPA; Chris Shank, Policy Director for the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee; Sandy Magnus, AIAA Executive Director; and Mary Lynne Dittmar, Executive Director, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration. The real discussion - bordering on a debate - was between Lori Garver and Chris Shank. You could say it was the opening salvo of space policy in the 2016 election.
The most naive thing to be said came from Mary Lynne Dittmar when she got to talking about a mandate to explore space (around 1:10:00) "Why is space held to this sort of standard that we - in this country - have to come to some single consensus about what the mandate needs to be in order for us to go forward? We don't do that for almost anything else." In other words, who needs a clear reason to go build SLS (i.e. a mandate)? We should just build it and then find something to go do with it - because we want to do something, somewhere - eventually - because that's what space people do - build new things that go into space. Oh, and just send us everyone else's money when we need it. In other words space IS special - to space people. They are just are blind to the obvious and feel no compulsion to make what they are doing actually relevant to the people who pay for their party.
"On one hand the space groups want to have a say in the political decisions that affect their members (and donors). But on the other hand they'd rather not have the politicians pay too much attention to space such that the current status quo is not upset. In other words "write us the checks but don't rock the boat" - or more bluntly "look but don't touch". This is, at best, naive thinking on the part of the space community."
- White Paper Lays Out Steps to Ensure U.S. Leadership in Space, AIAA, earlier post
- NASA Begins Its Journey To Nowhere, earlier post
- ASAP: NASA Has No Plan or Firm Funding For Its #JourneyToMars, earlier post