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Elliot Pulham, The Space Foundation, Friday, 1-11-13 January 12, 2013

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Elliot Pulham, The Space Foundation, Friday, 1-11-13


Guest:  Elliot Pulham.  Topics:  The Space Foundation’s White Paper, “Pioneering: Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Space.”  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information.  We welcomed back Elliot Pulham, CEO of The Space Foundation (www.spacefoundation.org) to discuss their new White Paper, “Pioneering: Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Space.”  You can download both the Executive Summary and the actual paper at www.spacefoundation.org/programs/research-and-analysis/pioneering.  Our guest was with us for the first hour of the program.  During our time with him, we discussed the Pioneering white paper, the reason for it, and its approach to sustaining U.S. space leadership.  Mr. Pulham defined pioneering for us and when asked, we learned that it was broader and more inclusive than the more frequently used terms of settlement or colonization.  We talked about why NASA needed a purpose, one that was clearly defined and articulated throughout the organization, plus  the congressional and executive branches of government.  We talked about basic NASA management improvements plus a host of strategic and tactical recommendations to improve our civil space policy and program.  Listeners had many questions for our guest ranging from how reforms within NASA and our political systems would actually be implemented to needing general public support for Pioneering to become the NASA organizational purpose.  Other issues that came up included how to transition from one year funding battles to long term project financing.  The NewSpace segment came up as did space advocacy organizations with listeners asking if the advocacy proponents need to speak with a more unified voice than from their respective and often diverse positions.  In the last few minutes of our discussion, I asked our guest for the implementation process.  Here, we learned what the Space Foundation has been doing since going public with their policy proposals and their plans for continuing to push for the Pioneering purpose and program.  We also talked about the role each of us can play in pursuing this type of seed change within NASA, Congress, and the Executive Branch to implement space policy changes for the better.  We did return after the hour for a very short second segment in which I announced some date changes for programs given the start of my teaching my UND commercial space graduate class.

     If you have comments/questions for Mr. Pulham about the Space Foundation White Paper, please post them on The Space Show blog URL above.


1. Dwayne - January 18, 2013

I wish I had paid attention and known that he was going to discuss their report, because I would have called in with a question. I think that the discussion missed a key aspect of the Space Foundation’s report, which was that it calls for eliminating several long-standing NASA missions, including aeronautics and Earth science. This is something that people occasionally suggest in comments on blogs and discussion groups, but usually without much thought. The Space Foundation report at least recognizes that you cannot do this to NASA without changing the agency’s charter–these are not things that NASA does on the side, they are actually in the foundational document for the agency.

What I would have asked is why the authors consider this proposal to be reasonable. Are Earth sciences, astronomy and aeronautics not worth doing at all? If those missions are eliminated from NASA, will they/should they be done by another government agency or agencies? If so, would their budgets go with them? How would those budget reductions affect NASA overall? And if those missions went to other agencies, would that possibly increase overall costs, because those agencies would then have to duplicate some functions/facilities that are currently handled by NASA?

Few people are aware of it, but last year there was proposed legislation in Congress to transfer the weather satellite program from NOAA to NASA (in other words, exactly the _opposite_ of what some space enthusiasts believe should happen). The justification for such a move–which was not approved–was that NOAA is unable to effectively manage that program and NASA would be better able to do it. Now the advocates for transferring missions like Earth science from NASA to NOAA don’t actually care about Earth science, so their proposal is usually based upon the premise that the mission is not worth doing, so who cares if it is done badly? But that’s not a good policy argument, and it’s not a winning policy argument, because it is essentially an argument in favor of waste and inefficiency rather than better government.

So the Space Foundation’s proposal to make NASA focused on “pioneering” is based upon the premise that this is more important than many other NASA missions. But there are many people, institutions, and not to mention a long history, that disagrees that these other missions are unimportant. I hope that if the Space Foundation continues to advocate this, that they address that issue. Don’t simply include the people who agree with them, but the people whose ox they are suggesting needs goring.

2. The Space Show: Elliot Pulham of the Space Foundation | Space-for-All at HobbySpace - January 14, 2013

[…] Elliot Pulham, CEO of The Space Foundation, spoke on The Space Show last Friday about the Foundation’s white paper, Pioneering: Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Space, and about other aspects of space policy: Elliot Pulham, The Space Foundation, Friday, 1-11-13 « Thespaceshow’s Blog […]

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