NASA is “[guided by] a carefully considered bipartisan vision…that [enables] ambitious investments in science, aeronautics, education and human space flight exploration, while also recognizing current budgetary constraints”

– Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV); May 18, 2011

NASA is “a narrow space program with timid objectives moving forward at the snail’s pace of politically constrained bureaucracy.”

­­– Robert Zubrin; May 24, 2011

“NASA will either undergo a paradigm shift now to figure out how to work with the private sector – or it will probably collapse.”

– “a NASA executive who asked not to be identified so he
might speak more frankly;” June 14, 2011

“How many times have we come to this symposium and heard that word ‘crossroads?’,” Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush asked at this spring’s 27th Annual Space Symposium. “Our space community always seems to be at a crossroads. It’s a common theme. And this year is no different.”

What was different were Bush’s prescriptions for curing the increasingly lethargic support Americans have for its space program. For many in the industry, they are undoubtedly tough pills to swallow. Asserting that the familiar “call(s) for industrial protection and government programs to keep our workforce intact…are no longer enough,” he prescribes:

  • “Incorporate true affordability as a requirement,” and
  • “Turn the many emerging substitutes for space from rivals into partners.”

Just last month, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation heard testimony on the “Contributions of Space to National Imperatives.” Without exception, each speaker confirmed, in so many words, that the U.S. Space Program’s lasting contribution is the massive global space economy it launched and fuels. With scientific discovery, global security, and inspiration as its chief drivers, the space industry in the United States alone sustains “nearly 11 million jobs…(and) remains the single largest contributor to the nation’s balance of trade, exporting $80.5 billion and importing $27.2 billion in relevant products in 2010, for a net surplus of $53.3 billion.” (Testimony of Aerospace Industries Association Vice President Frank Slazer; May 18, 2011) “Over the past six years, the global space economy has grown by 48 percent – from $164 billion in 2004 to $276 billion in 2010. The average annual growth rate of the industry increased from about 5 percent to nearly 8 percent last year.” (Testimony of Space Foundation CEO Elliot Holokauahi Pulham; May 18, 2011)

So, if at its core it’s all about American economic prosperity, how can we accelerate the coming of what’s next?

This blog post is the first installment in the 8th Continent Project’s 7-part series exploring an answer to that question. Not surprisingly, no quantum leaps of insight will be revealed. Rather, steps witnessed time and time again in other endeavors will be set forth to preserve, broaden, and mature the remarkable head start that the federal government and its aerospace contractors have given to all Americans.

Hint: We wholeheartedly agree with Wes Bush….and then some.

Next, in Part 2: It’s Time to Kick the Oldest Kid(s) Out of the House


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