Here’s how it happened. I asked my dear friend, let’s call him Bud, a member of our Congressional staff , to be the panel moderator for a space policy discussion. The panel was held during the 2006 at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) in Las Cruces. He invited four speakers from four different government agencies to discuss the 2006 Space Policy. As with most such panels, he started with introductions. Then each of the four speakers gave a brief summary on their agency positions. After his last speaker finished, we in the audience expected Bud to begin to question the panel.
Instead, Bud stood up and began to read from the 2006 Space Policy like Charlton Heston reading from stone tablets. There was passion, his voice became strong, and he recited passages from memory. There it was, the Thunder Bolt. Transformed, he read on. Well I thought; give him a paragraph, that won’t throw the panel rhythm off too much. As he turned the second page I looked into the audience. The passion was a bit one sided.
Yet, most people in the space industry are polite. Like in church during a long sermon, the audience just folded their arms and sunk a little deeper into their chairs. Eventually, Bud was politely nudged to re-engage with his panel members, and the session turned out to be an informative successful experience for the audience. It happened four years ago and it is like it happened yesterday. I hope you are still reading because I figured this would be as good a way as any to tell you about the 2010 Space Policy and its importance for New Mexicans.
On June 28th, the President released the 2010 Space Policy. Most folks will go through their lives blissfully ignorant of this document, which can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/national_space_policy_6-28-10.pdf.
Should you want to keep it that way, I understand. But I have fallen under the spell of the 2010 Space Policy Act. It’s the Sector Guidelines on page 10. That’s when the Thunder Bolt hit me.
There is a definition, for the first time, of Commercial Space. I can’t help myself, here it is. “The term ‘commercial’…, refers to space goods, services, or activities provided by private sector enterprises that bear a reasonable portion of the investment risk and responsibility for the activity.” Spaceport America is a State of New Mexico facility. We the tax payers are assuming the investment risk, and we will be positioned to benefit eventually from the policy directive to, “Promote a robust domestic commercial space industry, departments and agencies shall…purchase and use commercial spaced capabilities and services to the maximum practical extent.”
We will have the opportunity eventually to supply goods and services including safe, reliable and competitive launch services to government customers who want to get cargo and eventually humans to space. When the Shuttle stops flying the United States will spend millions with the Russians to send astronauts and cargp to resupply the Space Station
Our Governor and Rick Homans, the Executive Director of Spaceport America, know the implications of this policy for our state. When Spaceport America is fully operational, we will be able to compete for government business, save the taxpayers’ money while creating a new commercial space industry. Let’s hope this means future jobs in the commercial space industry evolving in New Mexico. What’s not to love? We save our government money and we create new jobs. Furthermore, while we maintain our status as the place where the space industry began, we establish leadership as the home of the new commercial space industry.