Happy New Year! I thought I would share a few comments and observations I have had regarding articles published since the November election, regarding the so called “Journey to Mars” at NASA. As a starting point, I will use an article from yesterday’s Miami Herald to make my point. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) was out talking about how Trump wont derail the Mars plans at NASA and that Florida and America will lead in space. Nice words (and the article is linked below)
First, let me just say…I am supportive of going to Mars and I hope it happens sooner tan 2033. I will also say, yes, this date and Mars flyby is in the 2010 National Space Policy, however…there are a lot of things in national space policies in history that has never happened. This is because of several things. First, and foremost, is political will. The group at NASA and National Security Council/Interagency space team, support space, but…Congress and other Departments and Agencies who have to fight for the same pot of money and national priorities list placement, may not be. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a HUGE maker or breaker of timely space plans whether in orbit or to Mars. Second, just because its in a document (and its not much language) does NOT mean the President supports putting a large effort into making it happen during their watch. If Obama was really interested in Mars, things could have been moved around with his OMB chief and in work with Congress on the budget to get more funding than $19Bish a year.
My thoughts are…if this National Space Council becomes a reality as some are speculating, then I hope that things don’t go like they did during the last iteration of the council. If Mars fans want to see what they want to avoid in space policy making and planning…read Mars Wars by Thor Hogan. Its informative and timely. I cannot validate all the information as I was not there and many of the key players were out of government before I entered into space policy and strategy, from what I did see and participate in during the 2009-10 Obama cancellation of NASA’s Constellation program as well as numerous other NASA, NOAA and DoD space efforts, the book seems to be realistic and highly likely.
Also, it appears (and that appearance is not necessarily mean it will happen) that the lunar base option with partner nations, is gaining steam. We shall see if something I heard former Mike Griffin say on The Space Show several years ago….(I am paraphrasing based on memory)…the Trump Administration will likely keep what has been started (Orion, SLS, COTS, Commercial Crew) and build upon that infrastructure already invested in. We shall see how it develops once people begin to be sworn in.
Finally, on a related note, I highly recommend you read former Director, Space Policy (National Security Council) Peter Marquez’s commentary in the recent Space News on National Space Councils. I think you will find it illuminating.
Happy New Year!