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OSTP Space <strike>Summit</Strike> Conference Update

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
March 24, 2010
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Keith’s 23 Mar update: I have learned that after the President holds his summit event at the KSC Headquarters area the President will then have a town hall meeting onsite at NASA KSC where he will hear – and take questions from KSC employees. He will also tour a number of KSC facilities (VAB, OPF etc.) It would seem that the concerns of the KSC workforce have managed to trickle up to OSTP. Stay tuned.
Lt. Gov wants Obama to debate; space summit venue hunt is on, Orlando Sentinel
“It remains to be seen what exactly White House plans are for the meeting, which is now being called a “Space Conference.” NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver was at Kennedy Space Center last week scoping out possible venues for the meeting. Her choices are the Operations and Checkout (O&C) building that was recently refurbished as a factory to assemble the Orion crew capsule that is now on the Constellation chopping block; the Operations Support Building 2; the Training Auditorium; the Debus Center at the visitor complex; and the Saturn Center … The location of the meeting isn’t the only aspect of the conference taxing officials’ minds. Administration insiders are still discussing various formats as well as whom to invite to the event.”

Keith’s 16 Mar update: The story circulating at KSC is that Air Force One will land at the Skid Strip and that the President will be moved to a building on site at KSC where the Space Summit will be held. Rest assured that the audience will be scrubbed, vetted, reviewed, checked, and otherwise investigated such that no one gets in unless the White House says so – and they are certain not to cause any embarrassments for the President and his “message”. Any protests that might be staged will be soooo far away from the event venue as to be imperceptible by media covering the event.
Keith’s 15 Mar update: Sources now report that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has become personally involved in some of the discussions related to this Space Summit.
Keith’s 14 Mar update: Still no word as to who will be appearing at the OSTP Space Summit or what will be said. Oh well: there are still several weeks within which OSTP can stall on this. I guess we’ll just have to wait for OSTP chief of staff Jim Kohlenberger to get around to telling people what will (or won’t) happen at this summit.
If the President is trully enaged in all of this – as OSTP Director John Holden is so fond of saying that he is – and if the President is indeed concerned about the NASA and contractor workforce, then OSTP needs to find a way for him to interact with people – directly – not via a scripted circus with intermediaries and surrogates. In other words, the President needs to do something in a way that resonates with how he got the job in the first place.
As it stands now, the people who are most affected by these OSTP policies are the least involved in this event. That is fundamentally wrong and inconsistent with an Administration that heralded openness and transparency as the hallmarks of their new way of doing business.
There is a Senate hearing on “Assessing Commercial Space Capabilities”. So … maybe this issue will get discussed at that hearing given that the new Obama space policy places great reliance upon the commercial space sector.
Keith’s 12 March note: The “Town Hall” concept that the White House originally considered for the President’s 15 April trip to Florida has been replaced with something a bit more like the recent health care summit. No word yet as to who will participate other than senior Administration and NASA officials and local and state politicians. You can bet that the White House advance team will pre-screen and hand pick almost everyone in attendance so as to limit the opportunity for random outbursts and YouTube moments. But they can’t do much about what happens outside the meeting site.
Meanwhile, Stephen Metschan, one of the team of non-rocket scientists behind the DIRECT concept is out trying to organize some sort of rally or protest meeting in/around KSC to coincide with the White House event. Alas, his friends are posting notes on NASA Watch stating that he is not doing this. Well, he is – and I stand by my reporting.
Space Coast Wants Answers From Obama – Local 6 To Ask Your Questions During Space Summit on April 15, WKMG
“When President Obama returns to Florida for a Space Summit next month, the crowd may not be so welcoming. His 2011 budget killed the Constellation project, put a hold on human space flight missions and left the lives of thousands of NASA workers and their families in limbo.”
Obama facing uprising over new NASA strategy, Reuters
“It is making for a potentially explosive environment when Obama travels to the Cape Canaveral area on April 15 to host a space conference with top officials and leaders in the field. “What reception will they get? Not good,” said Keith Cowing, editor of, a website that closely monitors the U.S. space agency. “It’s a gutsy move. It’s Daniel in the Lion’s Den.”

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