A New Era - Ambitious Strategy #2
Michael Laine Transcript --
"With that context, this next line in the document: Nearly every U.S. Government department and agency has potential equities in the utilization and development of space. That's everybody and we're going to see some examples later in this document. But when it says, nearly every governmental department has a role. They really mean it. There are pieces here that you wouldn't typically expect in a space document. We're going to get to that in just a second.
This document has kind of definitions for Roles of Government, Current Programs that exist, and new Potential Programs. Have that in the back of your head when we look at the next couple of slides here.
I think most of the people watching these videos already know that the NIH, National Science Foundation, and NIST already have programs. I won't say that's common knowledge my mom wouldn't know that, for example. But I think the people watching this video probably have a pretty good handle on the kinds of programs and experiments run on the International Space Station. But that's a pretty smart small list and frankly, this is a list for nerds like me. This is the kind of stuff you would expect to happen at the International Space Station.
Here's our curveball. Most people don't think of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) when they think of going to space. I think that's a missed opportunity that's been missed for decades but now it's time. We are going to develop nuclear power systems, fission reactors, and nuclear propulsion systems. That is so incredible. That's straight out of science fiction. The DOE suddenly has a huge role. I would argue that could change the nature and balance of what happens in space going forward. This piece is in this document. I find that kind of astounding, long overdue, and almost giddy for what the future could hold. If the Department of Energy (DOE) really sinks their teeth into this, I said at the beginning of this video that this document is about a month old, the very day after this document issued. The Department of Energy created a new request for proposal for nuclear power systems in space. The ripple effects of this policy happened immediately after this policy was available to the public. It is really staggering and that's just one example.
I’m going to go into some new ones here. When you have a document like this and the document says will provide, that is a declaration. That is a declaration from the President and The White House. This declaration is through the National Space Council to all of the branches of government under the executive branch. This is a declaration. It is not optional.
The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) will provide efficient and responsive commercial space launch and reentry regulations. That's not a choice anymore. There have been conversations about who is in Washington D.C. and going to manage launch and reentry. It's not a question anymore. It has been decided and this is how it's going to happen. Same thing with this! United States Department of Commerce will be the lead government advocate for growing space commerce both on earth and in space. As NASA was being the controller, Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) & Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) are commercial orbit programs, commercial crew, and commercial resupply. NASA had been controlling all of that money and all of those contracts. Frankly, a lot of people risked their careers on those kinds of contracts. Now, this is saying look NASA good job and keep up the exploration work. Department of Commerce is going to take it from here and we are going to be the ones who help grow the commercial space sector down here on the ground and out there in space. This is super muddy. People don't know what this means. I’ve been in this field for a long time and thinking about this line for many days now. I have no idea how this is going to play out. This could be great. It could be really game-changing or it could be the Pandora box. Honestly, I don't know how this is going to play out. I’m going to remain optimistic until we know more.
Here's that Will language. The Department of Interior will but it's got a caveat and it’s got a wiggle word in here: Will help. This isn't the same as will earlier. We'll help leverage its terrestrial experience in mining and other relevant areas. The Department of Interior is going to be doing stuff on the moon
and Mars. I bet most of the geologists at the Department of Interior did not see that coming. I don't know any geologists in The Department of the Interior. But I think this is going to be a surprise for some people. I’m very excited about that. Talking about the group of folks that are super capable of what they're doing. Now we're just going to hand them a new data set: Two planets, maybe Some asteroids. Hey! What do you think about this? I’m excited about that. Oh, I don't know two or a year ago, Space.com did an article on a researcher at the department of interior who actually did look at lunar data but as far as I know, that's a one-off situation. I’m excited that this whole new branch of the government is going to be tasked with being the keeper of this particular data, the assessor if you will of this kind of data. I wonder what their role is going to be. Do they have assay capabilities for whatever rocks we bring back? Do they just map and identify? Do they have a role of staking a claim on the moon? The Department of Interior does have some jurisdiction over claims of property on federal land or at least leasing of property on U.S federal land. Where is their role? What are the lines for the department of the interior? I think that's going to be a huge question. I’m going to bet there's a lot of people at the interior that did not see this coming. If they did see it coming, I think I might have heard something about it and I didn't. I think it may have surprised some people along the way but they're really good at understanding materials and resources. I think it'd be great to include them in this program of the moon and eventually Mars.
I said a little while ago, we're going to go deeper into international partnerships. Again, the language Will lead reflect U.S. values and policies can help now. That's a wiggle word, right? They've got some room to maneuver there but never forget that they're advancing U.S. space goals. This is the Department of State typically, they are not very involved in space stuff. Now, they have been very involved with the International Space Station. The International Space Station (ISS) is a bunch of interlocking treaties. I was privileged to go to the heads of the agency program in Washington, D.C. I think about six years ago, The Department of State orchestrated that whole thing. It wasn't a NASA program that invited other people. It was The Department of State that brought in the heads of agencies from about 40 different space programs around the world. The Department of State has a role that has been so far mostly overlooked except for policy nerds like me? But now, they are going to have a larger role. So, this language is very specific and directive but then what are they going to do. Yes, always there working on diplomacy. They're always working on stability. I don't see them working on transparency particularly often. So, I’m excited to see what that looks like. Confidence building measures that you would expect from the Department of State right? But here's one that I think is still very fuzzy: Guidelines for responsible behavior. There are some conventions out there. There are several international rules about operations in space. But responsible behavior that means something different to each actor. I talked a moment ago about academic, civil, commercial, and defense. But I’m primarily talking about American academic, civil, commercial, and defense. Responsible behavior for another nation or another culture is defined differently so I’m really curious how The Department of State is going to thread this particular needle. We've seen recently lots of bilateral instruments and very few multilateral instruments. The argument in Washington, D.C. is easier to negotiate one-on-one with many one-on-one relationships instead of group bargaining relationships. so, I’m curious to see how they're going to handle the mandate here. Again, this will language doesn't give them wiggle room and then this last piece about Can help convey and advance U.S. space goals, objectives, and plans with foreign countries that's their job. That part's not going to be a very big surprise but the guidelines I think are going to be a surprise or at least we're unsure how that's going to play out."