Monday, November 14, 2016

Donald Trump in Space; Now Fortified With Public Private Partnerships!

          By Brian Orlotti

On November 8th, 2016, New York billionaire real estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. As part of the aftershocks of this political earthquake, space analysts and advocates are trying to gauge what form the President-elect’s space policy will take.

A self-explanatory graphic c/o David Reneke.

During his campaign, Trump gained notoriety for his waffling, often contradictory stances on various issues. His space policy, at present, seems painted in only broad strokes.

As outlined in the November 11th, 2016 Scientific American article, "What Will Trump's Space Program Look Like?," former NASA Deputy Administrator and Obama space adviser Lori Garver noted that one very likely outcome of Trump’s victory will be a gutting of NASA Earth Science and green tech programs.

Ex-NASA deputy director Garver. Photo c/o Space News.
During the campaign, Trump made clear both his denial of climate change (dismissing it as a Chinese lie intended to cripple the US economy) as well as his support for increased domestic extraction of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil.

Garver went on to say that the future course of the US space program will likely be indicated by the Trump Administration’s choice for NASA Administrator. Donald Trump’s close relationship with former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich, could potentially herald a great shift in the US space program’s direction.

Gingrich, a long-time space advocate, is well-known for his desiring a more ambitious US space effort, both public and private. During the 2012 US election, Gingrich openly advocated for colonizing the Moon and making it the 51st US state. Gingrich has also been a staunch supporter of NASA’s Commercial Crew program.

A NASA administrator of the Gingrich school could see increased support for the commercial space industry as well as a shift back to the Moon as the NASA destination of choice.

Trump, with Gingrich. Photo c/o Seth Wenig/AP.
Trump’s past statements indicate that he views space not just as a driver of scientific and technological advance, but as an instrument of national prestige and US exceptionalism.

And he even has a basic idea on how to fund it.

As outlined in the October 25th, 2016 Space Policy Online post, "Trump: "I Will Free NASA" From Being Just a LEO Space Logistics Agency," Trump is on record as stating:
A cornerstone of my policy is we will substantially expand public private partnerships to maximize the amount of investment and funding that is available for space exploration and development.  This means launching and operating major space assets, right here, that employ thousands and spur innovation and fuel economic growth. 
I will free NASA from the restriction of serving primarily as a logistics agency for low earth orbit activity. Big deal. 
Instead we will refocus its mission on space exploration. Under a Trump administration, Florida and America will lead the way into the stars.  With a victory in November, everything will change.  Just think about what we can accomplish in 100 days.
Donald Trump, in his quest to “make America great again,” seems poised to re-infuse space with nationalism even while instilling in it the drives of capitalism.

Or not. The clock will soon begin ticking on those first 100 days.
Brian Orlotti.

Brian Orlotti is a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

1 comment:

  1. well, nobody can be 100% wrong or 100% bad. Something good has to come from all this USA election mistake. Hopefully, space industry will create hundred of thousands of jobs in USA and it will force a world wide competition.


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