I've been watching the US domestic space budget turmoil for the past several months, as have many of you. My feeling is that we are not really seeing much in the way of change on how funding actually percolates down to programs. For years, if not decades, the life of a space program in NASA or DoD has been extremely unstable. What we are seeing now is the bubbling up of this funding inconsistency (and it is not the only inconsistency) as external pressure continues to grow. This is not new, and it was very predictable.
The questions for the US domestic space complex are not about whether we should continue to have an astronaut corps, or national science and defense space efforts. Of course we should! Every able nation is reaching for the capability space brings to terrestrial needs. No, the real question is one every organization faces in our transitional world: How can US domestic space organizations bring value to the American people?
Some maintain that value comes in the form of jobs created and sustained. Some maintain that value comes in keeping the nation strong. There are many more positions of what the value is to a nation (our nation). And they are ALL right. The only wrong answer, in my view, is to deny the value others hold. Dr Don Warrick taught a class I took on Organizational Change. He made a statement in class one day that is a fundamental truth, "Often the problem of selecting one solution or another doesn't give us the correct answer. In many cases it is not a question of 'this' or 'that'. The answer is 'this' and 'that'." While it may not be possible to actually fund everything we all want from space projects, there is a way to allow all viable solutions to grow. This is the fundamental problem with the US domestic space industry - it has become a control freak over space abilities. Just say the word, "space" and someone claims to be the controller of your activity. Today, control has passed, or is passing, to others.
There is a problem with the US domestic space effort. It was predictable. The solutions to our problems, while politically entabgled, are understandable. Part of the solution is the creation of open solutions to our space needs, and that is what the Space Infrastructure Foundation is all about.
Unless otherwise noted, the blog posts are written by Frederick A. Slane, Executive Director of the Space Infrastructure Foundation.