Monday, March 19, 2012

Past, Present & Future Space Policy Perceptions

As Canadians move closer to the upcoming federal budget (currently scheduled for release on March 29th) and brace for expected major cuts across all departments (including the Canadian Space Agency), it's interesting to see how Ottawa has slowly ground to a halt to await the inevitable zero hour.

However, that doesn't mean that there aren't lessons to be learned from tracking the space focused policies and perceptions of others from outside Canada. Here are a few recent examples to mull over. 

To begin with, the above video provides several suppositions on how the history of space exploration might have been different if US President John F. Kennedy hadn't committed America to landing man on the Moon before the end of the 1960's. The speaker is Mat Irvine, who presented at a recent meeting of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) in London, UK.

Of course, the Americans don't need the Brits to show them how to navel gaze. The perception is growing that the current US space  program has reached a crossroad every bit as important as the chasm faced in the early 1960's, which brings us to our second example. It's the Sunday, March 18th, 2012 edition of the CBS 60 Minutes program, with its segment on Elon Musk and Space Exploration Technologies (Space-X).

Even the Russians, after a series of delays and failures which flowed like plot points in a spy movie (and were noted in my August 25, 2011 post "ROSCOSMOS Providing Plot Points for Bond Movie"), seem to have finally come up with a series of plans to guide their future activities, which brings us to our third example of ongoing space policy perceptions.

As discussed in the March 20th, 2012 Space Daily article, "ROSCOSMOS takes on NASA," a recently leaked new draft of the original strategy (covering the next 18 years) includes the launch of several long-term space missions to Mars and a manned flight around the moon.

Which is just the sort of thing to provoke the Americans into fits of fury.

Of course, the confusion at ROSCOSMOS has even included the recent hospitalization of Russian Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) head Vladimir Popovkin after a bar fight over a sultry model (who's also his personal press secretary according to the March 15th, 2012 Parabolic Arc article "Roscosmos Drama: The General, the Model and the Bottle"), which suggests that any long-term planning might still not be in the hands of the most stable of people.

It's likely that none of the above directly relates to Canadian activities or the Canadian aerospace review as discussed elsewhere on this blog. But it is worth noting that Canada is not the only country concerned over future space activities.

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