NASA, TRUMP, AND SPACE EXPLORATIONNovember 17, 2016
As I've noted over the past few days, sorting through all the stories and op-ed pieces out there about what the policies of President-elect Trump's administration might look like has been immensely difficult. Many of these have had to do with geopolitical implications, and indeed, I've been focused on some of these the past few days, both in blogs and in interviews and videos.
However, there's one very significant story that I've not heard mentioned very much, and that concerns Mr. Trump's place and leanings for space, and given that space is one of the things we concentrate on here, I would be remiss not to address it. This very important story was found by Mr. V.T., who shared it with us:
Consider the implications of these paragraphs from the article:
Donald Trump’s space advisers want his space program to focus more on human deep space exploration and less on researching the Earth and climate science. And the emerging commercial spaceflight industry will play a significant role in space policy moving forward.
In a recent op-ed in Space News, written by Robert S. Walker, former chairman of the House Science Committee and Peter Navarro, an economist and public policy expert suggested that "NASA should be focused primarily on deep space activities rather than Earth-centric work that is better handled by other agencies. Human exploration of our entire Solar System by the end of this century should be NASA’s focus and goal.""We laid out our vision to have human exploration of the entire Solar System by the end of the century," Walker told The Verge. "That certainly includes the Moon and Mars and well beyond most of those."
Walker, who wrote Trump’s proposed space policy, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association should take over all of NASA’s satellite missions that are used to research Earth and its climate.
"The science that is being doing is essentially Earth-based science," Walker told The Verge. "It relates to weather; it relates to Earth-based needs. And so NOAA is probably a more appropriate place for that to be done."
This policy move could restructure NASA’s Earth Science division, which has seen a relatively steady increase in funding under the Obama administration.
Walker and Navarro made it clear that strong public-private partnerships like that with SpaceX, tasked with ferrying people and cargo to and from the International Space Station, will continue, and that they will seek to turn the International Space Station into a "quasi-public facility" — something NASA has expressed interest in doing for some time. (Emphasis added)
So in other words, during a Trump administration, one can look for (1) a restructuring of NASA, spinning off Earth-climate sciences to other agencies, leaving NASA free to pursue deep space missions, (2) an increase and expansion of cooperation and development of space technologies and assets between NASA and private corporations, and (3) perhaps an official declaration from Trump of some sort of "Mars by-such-and-such a date" statement, similar to President Kennedy's announcement of landing on the Moon and safely returning humans from it, as part of a public declaration of focus or vision for the space agency to concentrate on manned deep space missions.
So where's the high octane speculation in all of this? For some time I've been arguing that the decentralizing political movements that we see emerging on Earth might lead Mr. Globaloney to change strategy, from imposing a top down solution on Earth from Earth, to basing that operation in space itself. To this end, I've also argued for some time that as part of those post-World War Two era financial deals that established a large system of hidden finance, that the major financial powers and banks were talked into this arrangement perhaps by the secret collateralization of space assets, including whatever "ancient technologies" might be found out there. I've argued that the current pushing of the meme of space "commercialization" tends to support my prior analysis in this respect.
Similarly, I've advanced the notion that one might see the re-emergence of the "sovereign corporations" of colonial development of yesteryear, space-based versions - as it were - of the Dutch or British East India Companies. My reasons for advancing this on-the-surface wild hypothesis is not only that this would fulfill the obligations of that possible secret collateralization of space that I've been arguing, but also because these companies undertook the obligation to defend their commercial interests, and indeed, were expected to do so. This led to the British and Dutch East India Companies in effect having their own militaries, their own soldiers, forts, cannons, and warships. Doing this in a kind of "Space Indies Company" would apparently circumvent existing space treaties prohibiting the militarization of space by the signatory powers. But the last time I looked, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Robert Bigelow, or for that matter, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Siemens, Rheinmetall, Dassault, Messerschmitt-Belkow-Blohm, and so on, were not signatories to those treaties. And Mr. Trump, a businessman himself, would be in a sense the perfect president to whom to advance such ideas and concepts, if - and it's a major "if" - one were going to argue for them. And he would be the perfect person in turn to argue for them to a larger public.
The problem here is that by expanding commercially into deep space, we might, as I argued at last year's Secret Space Program Conference in Bastrop, Texas, be crossing some ancient "cosmic Versailles treaty's" quarantine zone or boundary, in which case one would want to offer reassurances to "whomever."
See you on the...
...oh, and one more thing, before I forget:
Such thoughts do place that visit of Secretary Kerry to Antarctica into yet another very interesting and intriguing interpretive context, does it not?
Here endeth the High Octane Speculation of the day.
See you on the flip side...