A New Era for Deep Space Exploration & Development policy document from the White House.
"A New Era: Introduction - National Space Council Policy
Michael Laine Transcript:
"Hey! A couple of days ago, a huge new policy came out from Washington D.C. What we wanted to do is kind of jump into it and dissect it.
As usual, if we want to go here then there's a lot of steps we have to take between now and then. We created this set of playlists to tell our story as we're going. This one falls into the category of Space news; especially Commercialization, Space Force, and a little bit of Pop Culture.
When we talk about the four pillars, it falls right squarely into number four framework and so what is this thing? What is this thing? Why does it matter? First, let's start with its policy out of the National Space Council.
National Space Council
National Space Council is an organization that's been alive and dead at different times in different administrations. Most famously, it's the organization that spoke to Kennedy about his focus on going to the Moon before the decade is out. The Trump administration reconstituted it. It is led by a pretty amazing guy “Dr. Scott Pace”. What it's done is said we need a whole of government approach to going to space. It's not just about NASA these days. This document got a lot of weight. We're going to talk about the details. Here's a title; “A New Era for Deep Space Exploration Development” the link is in the description. It's worth reading.
Ambitious and Sustainable Strategy
It covers these five areas. We're going to go into more specifics as we explore this document. This stuff is coming up soon.
What it's trying to do is look at current programs, potential near-term future programs, and the role of government to instigate these policies. What is this thing?
Introduction; Going beyond Low Earth Orbit
First of all, It's the focus of going beyond Low Earth Orbit. Most of our activity as humans have centered it between Geosynchronous Orbit, MEO; Middle Earth Orbit, and LEO. We're about to have a very congested environment at LEO we've gotten good at Low Earth Orbit. We're about to have tens of thousands. We currently have roughly 3,000 and we're going to have soon 10 to 90,000 satellites at Low Earth Orbit. We're pretty good at that so this document is saying we're good at Low Earth Orbit. What do we do now? *And, what do we do next? This policy is talking about what we do beyond Low Earth Orbit? and why? The focus is on long-term exploration and utilization. This isn't just about the moon. It's also not just about Mars. It's everything beyond LEO so that's the whole solar system.
It's amazing to me. One of the reasons I want to highlight this document to you is the first page, the first paragraph, the second sentence includes “low-Earth orbit commercialization”. The idea of Commercialization is threaded throughout this whole document and it's in the opening paragraph. That should kind of give you an idea like “Where we're going here?” is that. This document highlights the capabilities of the “Commercial Space” sector. That's a really important detail and it's highlighted many times throughout this document.
Multiple national interests
What are we going to do? This vision is to “Utilize” and “Develop”. Those two keywords are going to come up over and over again. Utilize, develop, core technologies, core capabilities, and again focuses on the commercial space economy. They're already starting to differentiate that there was a space program before today and after today. The divider comes down to utilization, development, and the commercial sector.
We talk about the areas that this document focuses on; Economy, National security, Science, and Diplomacy. Diplomacy is an often overlooked but very important component of our U.S space program. We used diplomacy to build a better relationship with the Soviets long before the wall came down. We've used diplomacy as a space program to push diplomatic agendas with the International Space Station as well.
This next section is that I want to home in on. When it says that the landscape has changed and the nature of leadership in space has evolved that is vitally important to understand. It used to always be about firsts. Russia’s Sputnik was the first satellite. Gagarin was the first orbital astronaut. We were the first on the moon. There are always these firsts. There's a lot of firsts; the first animal, the first orbital, the first Space Station. Lots of firsts. Everybody's claiming firsts. What this document is saying is that the nature of leadership in space has evolved. It's less about firsts and more about expansion and capabilities being able to reach further and further. Of course, the first woman on the moon that's a big deal. Credit where it's due the recent Chinese rover on the far side of the moon that's a big deal. People are still going to claim firsts that's not going to change. The first person on mars is going to be a big deal. What they're saying here is quite boldly the nature of leadership has in space has evolved and we're going to see that in the rest of this document.
What are we trying to do? First of all, there are challenges and how we work those challenges. We've talked about Hardware, Business, Outreach, and Framework. Those are our LiftPort's definitions of challenges but certainly, those can be applied across the board to National space policy. How are we going to provide opportunities to our partner Nations, Commercial space organizations, and Academic organizations? That's still very fuzzy. I believe that's a work in progress. This acknowledges are new departments that typically and traditionally have not had a role in space but now have a role in space. This document gives other agencies other organization's political cover for their role in space. For example, this document came out on the 23rd of July. On the 24th; the very next day, the department of energy issued a challenge to create a nuclear power plant that would be capable of the Moon and Mars. Up until now, they didn't have a role but now they have a role. It's that kind of almost immediacy that this document is going to have ripple effects. By giving other departments and agencies political cover they can get more involved with the space program. I think that's important because they didn't have that mandate before.
Let's face it. This is very wonky. Space policy document; it's 23 pages. It's hard to read honestly. There are not very many people in the country that are going to read this thing. It was a conversation internally with the team about whether or not we should highlight it. After people read, it will influence the future. It's a safe sentence to say, there aren't many Americans who are going to be compelled to read this document. But I assure you folks in Russia and China are going to be looking at this document very carefully. I find this particular phrase in here dissuading adversaries to be interesting because it effectively puts near-peer nations on notice that this is what we're doing. Of course, I believe they probably already know that. But this document codifies that sentiment.
There's a lot on this slide. We talk about industrial-scale commercial activities. I've been in this field for nearly 20 years and I don't think I've ever seen an official policy document used the phrase industrial-scale commercial activities. When I started that would have been a phrase straight out of Star Trek that would have been so far distantly in the future as to be an unbelievable statement.
For it to be in this document that's pretty surprising. I would go so far as to say that's a pretty bold choice of language. Certainly, that's exciting for us. that’s important to us at LiftPort but it's also important to the global space community. There will be organizations out there that build if we're using Star Trek as a reference there will be organizations that build the enterprise. I think that's amazing. There's going to be on-orbit transportation. There's going to be on-orbit construction. They're going to the source, materials from somewhere not on earth. Whether that's asteroids or the Moon or recycling the space debris. There's going to be an industrial scale of commercial activities.
This document points it out and says if it's true then what? We'd start talking about American companies effectively competing in the global marketplace. That's a pretty lovely phrase. I would like to see how they build regulations to enable that. We'll see how that unfolds. But then there's a line in there about the foundational requirement of space leadership in the U.S commercial space sector.
Last summer, I was in the meeting where the chief scientist than of Air Force base command now the chief scientist of Space Force said that the key to the future for the American space program is the commercial space sector. It is gratifying to see something that was openly ridiculed 10, 12, 15 years ago kind of coming into its own and being accepted by federal leadership.
Speaking of U.S Space Force, I think this line is pretty important. It's saying that they don't necessarily have a role directly in the development of space but they have a lot of indirect follow-on elements. Space transportation, logistics, power, communications pretty important. Navigation, we already know that the American way of life kind of depends on GPS. I believe and this is my reading into this document. I believe this says that they're going to have a developmental role. I don't know if that's true or not but that's my hope. This piece about the role that Space Force could potentially hold as enforcing responsible behavior in space. I think that one's significant. The tying in of the State Department, Defense Department, Secretary of Commerce, Transportation, Energy, Homeland, and Security showing that each of these organizations has a significant role in the development of this new strategy. I think that's important. I don't believe I've ever heard the whole of government approach in space this consistently. I've seen it before but not at this level. My enthusiasm for this is higher because I believe we've kind of raised the notch a little bit.
Leveraging public-private partnerships
It's funny how they talk about going to the moon with a public-private partnership as a symbolic first step. Certainly, I believe that I know that there are a lot of folks rooting for Mars and my hearts with you. I want to get there as badly as you do. But a symbolic first step; I like the language of that and I think it's true. Leveraging public-private partnerships; that is the reason we restarted this company. It's the reason a lot of space companies out there are building because very few if any companies can just go to space by themselves not even ultra-funded Blue Origin or SpaceX could go to space without having the government either as a partner or a client. So, this public-private partnership's underlying philosophy has enabled us to restart our company. But it also has enabled dozens if not hundreds of private-small companies to dream about going to space with Nasa as either an anchor tenant or as a lighthouse customer. I like the language of this and I think that this will help unfold a very specific future that I'm looking forward to.
That's the introduction of this document “The New Era”. Over the next few days, we're going to go even deeper into some of the other core elements. I'm sure there are questions if there are please post them to the channel. I'll do my best to answer them. I confess I am not a space policy expert although I do have a fair amount of experience in this arena. Thanks for your interest. See you soon. Bye."