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Biden Space

The Space Council's UAG STEM Committee Accomplished Nothing

By Keith Cowing
March 29, 2021
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The Space Council's UAG STEM Committee Accomplished Nothing

Keith’s note: According to James Miller at NASA who emailed “NASA Internal Memo: National Space Council UAG Update from Chair, ADM Jim Ellis” to lots of the usual suspects within the DC space wonk choir, the National Space Council (NSpC) and its Users Advisory Group (UAG) are still alive and active (surprise) with all of their Trump-nominated members:
“… our UAG executive Committee (ExCom) has continued to meet on a regular basis and several Subcommittees, most notably the Education and Outreach Subcommittee, have also continued meeting or are planning to do so. Your participation in those sessions will, of course, be key to their continuing success. In summary, as both the UAG and the NSpC we advise are still active organizations, it seems appropriate that we continue to work to identify areas where we can contribute, even as we await any potential organizational changes.”
If you go to pages 8-10 on the UAG’s Transition Summary which is appended to this memo you will see that among the organizations the UAG’s Education and Outreach subcommittee met with in January 2021 – as the Trump Administration was leaving and the Biden Administration was arriving – were:
EdChoice which is an Indiana-based nonprofit devoted to the privatization of schools through the promotion of an educational voucher system. The right-wing 501(c)(3) nonprofit is an associate member of the State Policy Network, a right wing/libertarian think tank. and The Reagan Institute which says “Here at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, our education programs are dedicated to cultivating the next generation of citizen-leaders. Each year we work with thousands of teachers, and tens of thousands of students from across the country to help foster engaged and informed citizens. We invite you to explore these pages for information on programs, scholarships, and opportunities for students and educators.”

The UAG STEM subcommittee also met with Space Generation Advisory Council, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, and still plan to meet with the International Space University. This report is dated 16 November 2021 – after the election. Why is this UAG subcommittee meeting with right wing foundations with political agendas in the first place – especially as a new Administration is taking over? Why are they not meeting with additional organizations that are overtly focused on education – specifically STEM and space – such as The Challenger Center for Space Science Education, Sally Ride Science, and the Space Foundation?
To be certain this UAG group came up with some obvious findings and recommendations such as “We recommend the NSpC write a “Space Policy Directive” concerning STEM education in the U.S. with the intent to prepare the future space industry workforce.” But unless I missed something, not a single thing they spent their time on has ever seen the light of day in terms of newly established policy at NASA or elsewhere. Indeed the Trump administration tried year after year to eliminate all education office activity at NASA. Its hard to reconcile their actions with this group’s single policy suggestion.
If you go to the presentations from the UAG at their meetings all you can see are Powerpoint presentations that amount to a few talking points and lists of places that they spent travel funds to visit. Where are the detailed reports that one would assume that an august body of experts appointed by the President would be expected to produce?
The UAG is a FACA committee under the NSpC so NASA does not run it. But the Biden Administration can modify the UAG membership as they see fit. One would hope that this happens sooner rather than later so as to allow it to pursue an education-friendly agenda among other things.

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