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Biden Space

After 9 Months Biden's Space Policy Is Totally TBD

By Keith Cowing
November 3, 2021
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After 9 Months Biden's Space Policy Is Totally TBD

Keith’s note: In case you have not noticed, Joe Biden has stopped talking about Moon rocks and Mars Helicopters or NASA. But he does allude to “winning the space race” on occasion (whatever that means half a century later). Alas, the vice president’s office was incapable of finding actual human children with an interest in space here in the DC metro area so her staff hired a bunch of child actors from around the country to pretend to be interested and flew them to a set for a show-and-tell thing.
There is a National Space Council which the VP’s office decided to keep – but it needed a make over first to get rid of the Pence/Trump vibes. Although its membership is mostly set by charter we have heard nothing about that or when it will meet. After the first deadline for the Space Council’s Users Advisory Group (UAG) membership solicitation came and went (low response rate apparently) they extended it another month. The new date was 29 October so, given the glacial pace that space policy moves these days, it will be next year before we find out who is on the UAG. And of course we’ll need to see when it meets and whether it will be yet another space policy Potemkin village with no real responsibilities. And when it comes to OSTP and NSC there’s nothing but crickets there.
As for what NASA is doing policy wise, well, the NASA Office of International and Interagency Relations (OIIR) the folks who run that show still cannot figure out where the website links are for some crucial space policy documents – including the enabling charter for the National Space Council and the documents that codify international participation in the ISS program. If you go to the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) home page you can see a nice picture of the NAC – as it appeared exactly two years ago. Except Mike Gold and Jim Morhard have left NASA and Senator Bill Nelson is now Senator Administrator Bill Nelson. If you go to this page (last updated 31 August 2021) for the membership you’ll see 12 people. Some faces are the same. Some are not. NASA has not announced any change in membership of the NAC. Nor has it announced a meeting date.
The last time that the NASA Advisory Committee had a public meeting was 31 October – 1 November 2019 – two years ago – one year before the 2020 election. Yes, the pandemic upset things but NASA now has a thousand webinars, telecons, etc, every single day. NASA and its external communities have the whole telework thing down – just like the rest of us.
Some of the NAC committees still manage to meet but there is only so much they can do if there is no NAC to report back to. But since NASA has one singular thing to worry about (after the Webb launch that is) i.e. launching SLS with an totally TBD budget, small matters such as having a functional agencywide advisory Council seem to have fallen by the wayside.
So, to sumarize, the White House effort to coordinate space policy matters is still a work in progress; The National Space Council exists only in Powerpoint; NASA cannot figure out how to get NAC members or have NAC meetings; the agency’s own website has no idea where some basic information on space policy stuff resides, and no one quite knows if the whole Moon thing is going to happen as NASA says it will and if so when, how many moon landers it must build, and how much the whole party will cost.
Got that?
Sleepwalking Through Space Policy At NASA Headquarters, earlier post
No One Really Knows/Cares What The NASA Advisory Council Does, earlier post
Joe Biden’s NASA Needs A Wake Up Call, earlier post
Chirag Parikh Selected As National Space Council Executive Secretary, earlier post
Biden No Longer Gives All Those NASA Outs, earlier post
Join Space Team Biden: Apply For The National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group, earlier post
Actors Were Hired To Promote The Whole VP Space Thing, earlier post
VP Harris Kicks Off World Space Week And NASA Ignores Her (Update), earlier post
NASA History Office Loved Those Space Council Photo Ops, earlier post

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.