Commercialization: September 2020 Archives

Economic development projects to bring 510 new jobs to Huntsville area, Made in Alabama (Alabama Department of Commerce)

"The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber today announced that new economic development projects will bring 510 new jobs and more than $71 million in investment to the community."

Keith's 27 Sep 10:54 am EDT note: This release was issued on 25 September 2020 - the same day as the NASA economic Report came out. The Made in Alabama (Alabama Department of Commerce) website makes no mention of the NASA Economic Impact report. NASA HQ makes no mention of this news from Alabama. NASA Marshall makes no mention of this local economic news or the NASA economic report on their website but their twitter account retweeted @JimBridenstine's tweet - once.

NASA's Impact on Economy Is No Secret to Space Coast, MyNews13

"In Florida, NASA employs 33,000 workers and makes a $5.9 billion impact on the Space Coast, according to Space Florida's Dale Ketcham. Planned missions to return to the moon and to go to Mars for the first time are responsible for a lot of that impact, he said."

There is no mention of this report (or a link to it) on the Space Florida website but they are responding to media requests. There is no mention on the NASA Kennedy website but they did retweet @JimBridensine's tweet - once. No mention is made on the Florida Governor's website or the Department of Economic Opportunity. Rep. Bill Posey has posted nothing on his website or his Twitter account. Sen. Rick Scott makes no mention on his website or Twitter account. Sen. Marco Rubio has nothing on his website but he does make mention on his Twitter account. Given the immense amount of money NASA has sent to Florida over the past half century you'd think that the folks there would be a little more interested in spreading the good news - especially when the economy is in such dire shape. Its baffling that NASA Kennedy is not making more of this good news.

Oddly, while Johnson Space Center makes no mention of this NASA economic impact report on their homepage, they do have an old link prominently featuring their own report: "Texas Comptroller Releases NASA Economic Impact Report". I mentioned this report back in September 2019 when JSC did a stealth launch of their own:

"Look at this Texas portion (larger image) of the list of companies that are suppliers to SLS/Orion/Artemis: "2019 Deep Space Exploration Systems Supplier Locations". These 182 companies are located all over Texas. I'll be willing to bet that nearly all of these companies have no idea that there is a NASA website that lists all of the small business that work on this project. The Texas Comptroller seems not to know about it. JSC does not mention it either. Why go through the time and expense of collecting this information if no one is told that it exists?"

While JSC still features this old economic news from a year ago on their website, JSC makes no mention of the new report - but they did retweet Jim Bridenstine's tweet - once.

There is no mention on the NASA Ames website; none at NASA Armstrong's website; nor any mention at NASA JPL's website - this despite the fact that the report cites California having "69,725 jobs in the California economy were supported by NASA activities in Fiscal Year 2019" and that "The total income impact of NASA in California was $6.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2019."

Keith's 28 Sep 12:21 pm EDT update: NASA Langley just issued this press release today at 12:13 pm EDT. NASA's Moon to Mars Economic Impact Study Shows Significant Benefit for Virginia - but no mention on their homepage.

No mention is made by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology or the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Jim Bridenstine will be testifying there on Wednesday - maybe he will mention the report).

No mention of the NASA report is made at the Aerospace Industries Association, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Space Foundation, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - or the National Space Council. To their credit, the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration does make brief mention on their website and links to the NASA report. And of course none of the space advocacy groups have bothered to say anything.

I could go on and research the PR given to this report for all 50 states. A simple Google news search will show how underwhelming the response has been. Let me be clear: this report is overflowing with great news for NASA and hundreds of communities across the nation. I hope NASA publishes more things like this since they have only scratched the surface of what NASA provides to this nation. America needs good news right now. The inspirational aspect of what NASA does as part of this good news is an added bonus in these dark times. But it is downright depressing to see NASA drop the ball when it comes to promoting its own good news - once again.

What happend to all of that presidential "Make Space Great Again" hoopla? Or was that just for campaign ads?

- NASA's Economic Impact Study Misses Much Of NASA's Economic Impact, earlier post
- NASA Economic Impact Report Released, earlier post
- NASA Report Details How Agency Significantly Benefits US Economy, earlier post

Keith's note: NASA put out an "Economic Impact Study" today. Not much thought was put into making the most of this report given that it was issued at 7:00 am on a Friday. So NASA will get one day of media bounce before a weekend at a time when news recycles every 17 minutes. Bad rollout planning aside, the report is quite useful and contains some very important information that bears on NASA's future - not just for the whole space thing - but as an economic and societal force. But this report is only useful to the extent that people know that it exists and that those people who convey its contents understand what it says and convey that information such that a broader audience can ingest and use it. NASA issued a brochure for the media but odds are very few regular taxpayers will ever know about it. That's a shame since NASA's impact is considerable.

As for the report itself, the breakdown of economic numbers is done on a state by state level. At the end of the day it is obvious that most economic policy has a high state level quotient to it. But if NASA really wanted to explain where it has an impact (and by default where it does not) the breakdown should be done at a town or zip code level. These maps with large states give a somewhat inaccurate impress of where the impact is derived. In many cases it is located in metropolitan or regional areas that either focus a state's economic power to limited areas, or span the borders of more than one state and offer a regional focus.

In many cases these maps point out woeful inequalities by default such as Montana (less than 1 FTE who earned $10,000), Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, etc.. Nothing is ever said in this report with regard to why some parts of America do not share in all of this NASA economic goodness. But wait: they do. These states have large agricultural and natural resource sectors of their economy that benefit from remote sensing. GPS and satellite communications enable many economic activities that would otherwise be impossible. And every person who lives there derives some benefit from all of these 'spinoffs" that NASA is forever waving its arms about. Yet I see no mention in this report as to how these technologies with clear NASA heritage and continued involvement impact these states. It just looks like they get nothing. Why would anyone in those states ever care about NASA's benefits since NASA shows there to be virtually none?

The report uses lots of models and makes incessant mention of how one NASA FTE civil servant job leads to X number of other jobs but the report never provides actual examples i.e. where a specific program with a specific number of civil servants resulted in contracts to specific companies and how many people they hired and what their collective economic impact on their community was. I think that would be most enlightening since most people are unaware of how this all works. I suppose some of the company stuff is proprietary but absent any granularity it seems that a 'one size fits all' metric is used to compute and express this multiplier effect.

Also - the efficiency with which a large aerospace contractor hires and conducts work vs how a small business does hiring can be vastly different. Since we constantly hear about how much of America's business is done by small businesses one would think that would be very useful information. Oh yes, although this was based on older FY 2019 information, given that we are all working at home now in a dispersed mode - and will be for some time to come - this would also give some insight as to what a dispersed, but networked, workforce can do.

It would be interesting to see how NASA's economic impact fares when compared on a dollar:dollar basis with scientific organizations such as NSF and NIST and on large developmental/operational organizations such as NOAA and DoD. It would also be interesting to compare what an academic dollar buys you vs what a commercial dollar can buy.

It would, of course, be interesting to see how the economics map put when compared to Congressional districts. Having once worked for a large aerospace contractor I can tell you with certainty that they know exactly who gets what. And if someone was really industrious they'd map political contributions ... but I digress.

I guess what I am looking for is how you translate this report (which I am certain has accurate information) into words that people outside of economic wonkery and internal beltway spin can understand. NASA put together a nice data dump but it is somewhat cold and devoid of any human connectivity. Does the report mention how often state and local organizations interact with NASA on business matters? Does it mention how many high school and college graduates take on majors related to - or inspired-by NASA and how that contributes to a broader aspect of the nation's economy?

This is a very useful report and I am sure there is a lot in there that I have missed. The reach of the agency's economic impact is chronically under appreciated and rarely quantified in such a comprehensive fashion. Kudos to the authors and sponsors.

But if I were a state economic official (from Montana) and I looked at what other states got from NASA, I'd like to know why they got what they did and why my state did not. If I was at a state or local chamber of commerce I'd like to see some local examples and lessons learned. It would be nice to see some plain language success stories - such as how a machine shop with several dozen employees got to make a part that goes in a NASA rocket and how the income from that one part employed people, how those people felt about their work, what the actual impact was interns of the specific jobs created, and how all of that translated (or did not translate) into visibility for NASA's role at an organic level. In essence I'd like to see how the mere presence of a company doing space stuff has impacts other than sheer numbers.

Members of Congress like big numbers and often fall under the spell of lobbyists and big aerospace companies and the self-serving yarns that they spin. But they also like small stories. They like to get letters about home town impacts and success stories based on real people leading normal lives. Such stories can often exceed they impact of a lobbyists' spin. You cannot quantify hope or inspiration and the impact that they have with mere numbers. But a report on NASA's economic impact is incomplete without presenting the impact of hope and inspiration - and pride - especially right now when people are looking for a bright light at the end of this horrible tunnel

NASA's impact on America is woefully underestimated - sadly, it is all too often underestimated by NASA itself.

NASA Report Details How Agency Significantly Benefits US Economy

"NASA released Friday the results of its first-ever agencywide economic impact report. The report shows that, through all NASA activities, the agency generated more than $64.3 billion in total economic output during fiscal year 2019, supported more than 312,000 jobs nationwide, and generated an estimated $7 billion in federal, state, and local taxes throughout the United States."

NASA Highlights Science, Business on Next Northrop Grumman Mission to Space Station

"Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA and Stéphane de La Faverie, group president, The Estée Lauder Companies and global brand president, Estée Lauder, who will discuss plans to photograph the company's New Advanced Night Repair serum in the space station's iconic cupola window as part of NASA's efforts to enable business activities at the space station and develop a robust low-Earth orbit economy."

Keith's note: We got an advanced look at one of Phil's slides. NASA apparently did extensive simulations of the perfume photo op. Larger image

Day 2 of ISSRDC Online Series to Feature Space Investment, Commercialization, and NASA-driven Programs

"Day 2 of the 9th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) will take place virtually this Thursday, September 17, bringing together researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs, investors, and the general public to showcase the benefits of conducting research and technology development onboard our nation's industrial incubator in low Earth orbit (LEO). Each year, ISSRDC is hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), NASA, and the American Astronautical Society. The day will kick off with a session focused on space-based research that is leading to commercial product applications. Multiple plenary sessions will be dedicated to NASA-driven initiatives like GeneLab and the Cold Atom Lab. Additionally, a session focused on trends within the investment community will be led by executive leadership within Nasdaq."

The conference will also air on NASA TV

Space Travel Reality Show Set To Send Contestant To ISS In Works From Space Hero Company & Propagate, Deadline

"The trip of the Space Hero winner will be on a SpaceX Dragon rocket. Space Hero, billed as the first space media company, is working with Axiom Space, manufacturer of the world's first privately funded commercial space station -- a module for the ISS where the private astronauts can stay -- and full-service human spaceflight mission provider. Led by Mike Suffredini who served as NASA's International Space Station program manager for 10 years, Axiom handles all aspects of the Space Hero private astronaut mission, from brokering the trip to the ISS -- currently earmarked for early 2023 -- and securing the rocket seat to training the aspiring astronauts and insurance coverage."

NASA astronauts have a new task: make videos of Estee Lauder products, CNN

"The International Space Station has served as the world's most unique laboratory for two decades, hosting hundreds of scientific experiments, crews of astronauts and even the occasional slime. But now, NASA, one of the space station's primary operators, is preparing to oversee the largest push of business activity aboard the ISS. Later this month, up to 10 bottles of a new Estée Lauder (EL) skincare serum will arrive at the space station, a NASA spokesperson told CNN Business. NASA astronauts are expected to film the items in the microgravity environment of the ISS and the company will be able to use that footage in ad campaigns or other promotional material."

Space Resources are the Key to Safe and Sustainable Lunar Exploration

"Today, we're taking a critical step forward by releasing a solicitation for commercial companies to provide proposals for the collection of space resources. When considering such proposals, we will require that all actions be taken in a transparent fashion, in full compliance with the Registration Convention, Article II and other provisions of the Outer Space Treaty, and all of our other international obligations. We are putting our policies into practice to fuel a new era of exploration and discovery that will benefit all of humanity. The requirements we've outlined are that a company will collect a small amount of Moon "dirt" or rocks from any location on the lunar surface, provide imagery to NASA of the collection and the collected material, along with data that identifies the collection location, and conduct an "in-place" transfer of ownership of the lunar regolith or rocks to NASA. After ownership transfer, the collected material becomes the sole property of NASA for our use."

Pick an agency, any agency, Space Review

"Congress, though, rejected the proposal, with appropriators skeptical that Commerce was the best agency to handle civil STM. Prior to SPD-3, the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, or AST, had been the leading candidate to handle STM in addition to its work licensing commercial launches and reentries. While the administration decided to give that authority to the Office of Space Commerce, some in Congress still thought AST was the better home. ... The report, led by a panel chaired by Michael Dominguez, former assistant secretary of the Air Force and which included former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe and former NRO director Marty Faga, was released August 20. And, much to the relief of the administration, it concluded that the Office of Space Commerce was indeed the best agency for the job. "Following its evaluative criteria, the Panel determines OSC to be best suited to perform STM tasks within the federal government," the report succinctly stated."


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