It's quiet today. Canadian astronaut Julie Payette is still on the ground at Cape Canaveral, Florida, while in Washington, DC. the Augustine Committee is also not yet quite airborne, as they meet and attempt to define the future of NASA (see the Space Politics blog for more details).
But in the southern sun of New Mexico, the Virgin Galactic White Knight 2 prepares to buzz the tower at Las Cruces International Airport and the real future of spaceflight is being born.
Meanwhile, back in Colorado, the Rockies Venture Club focuses on the profit potential for commercial space according to the local Rocky Radar, which bills itself as “Colorado’s Technology Record” and normally focuses on bio science and green technology.
And at Howard Bloom's Big Bang Tango, experts in flash animation build space focused advertising that might even appeal to us ordinary folks.
In fact, the reason why these activities seem to resonate so strongly relates to ongoing conversations I've been having with associates in the Canadian Space Commerce Association and the Canadian Space Society as to the appropriate activities for space advocacy organizations to engage in and the appropriate types of members to recruit for those activities.
In essence, many of us believe that space advocacy organizations should have the following:
- Members who actually build something once in awhile. Perhaps that something doesn't need to be quite so complex as White Knight 2 but maybe it could be an instrument package or a micro-satellite buss or even a magnetic torque rod mechanism for attitude control just so long as it's something either used in space or by people who go into space or by people who put other peoples things into space.
- Members who are knowledgeable regarding business fund raising; either venture capitalists like the Rocky Radar people, angel investors or perhaps just someone aware of the appropriate tax credits available from various government programs for research and development.
- Members knowledgeable in advertising and marketing who are comfortable advocating in public forums like the Big Blue Tango people and aren't just going to continue to preach to the converted.
Not all of us subcribe to the above but a general consensus seems to be growing that space advocacy groups need to have more than just graduate students, fiction fanatics, dreamers and unemployed engineers looking to make connections for contract work as their core membership.
Not every member needs to know or do everything on this list but the overall membership should contain a couple who can fulfill each individual item as required. Only then can space focused advocacy organizations begin to appropriately fulfill their mandates and start serving a useful role for their members.
So maybe all this quiet in Canada is simply the calm before the storm and perhaps this time, the times really are a-changing…