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This week Congress is expected to resume its deliberations regarding the future of NASA. Vying for attention are many powerful interests. Some urge passage of legislation to bolster R&D and the emerging commercial launch sector. Others want laws that protect endangered NASA workforce talent. Still others urge minimal government involvement on the notion that an open and free marketplace is the best way forward.
Are winners and losers an inescapable result of this battle? We at 8th Continent think not.
Take Florida, for example.
Faced with the loss of as many as 23,000 jobs directly or indirectly tied to the retirement of the Shuttle Program, Florida has launched an impressive array of business recruitment, infrastructure development, workforce, R&D, and STEM education programs. Its focus is four-fold:
- Upgrade the state’s launch infrastructure for 21st Century demands;
- Expand and deepen its aerospace R&D capabilities;
- Retrain a portion of its Shuttle workforce for jobs in emerging aerospace roles; and,
- Retrain and incentivize others in the Shuttle workforce to grow a new generation of entrepreneurial ventures that employ aerospace-derived technology to deliver new solutions in industries not typically associated with aerospace – industries like clean energy, optics and photonics, advanced materials, cybersecurity, biotechnology, environmental monitoring, agriculture, adventure tourism, and robotics.
At 8th Continent, we call this emerging aerospace constituency “Space 2.0.” Taken together, traditional aerospace and Space 2.0 constitute a powerful ecosystem that creates jobs, investment opportunities, and prosperous communities.
Florida knows this; and other states with deep roots in America’s legendary space program accomplishments can discover a productive path beyond the current tug-of-war, thanks to Florida’s vision.
8th Continent stands ready to respond to whatever happens in Congress between now and the end of the year…including our least favorite outcome: continuing indecision.
But what we hope happens is a balancing of all considerations, resulting in a strategy that, over time, both funds new “pre-competitive” aerospace technology and then works hard to push that technology out the door and into the hands of American entrepreneurs with access to the deep pockets of the capital marketplace.