Why Do We Want to Have a Space Program?
MetadataShow full item record
For more than fifty years, the exploration and development of space by the United States could have been characterized, without much exaggeration, as “all government, all the time”. There were exceptions, notably with regard to the commercial communications satellite industry, but they were just that – exceptions. Despite the entreaties of many who argued for a more balanced policy environment designed to encourage the development of commercial space enterprises, space development remained essentially a government preserve. Now, at least where human spaceflight – always the most visible symbol of the American space program – is concerned, we are confronted with a policy environment that is almost diametrically opposed to this decades-old paradigm, and commercial space enterprises are in vigorous pursuit of defense and intelligence community markets as well. This lecture will explore the ramifications of such policy shifts, together with the rationale for maintaining a robust national space effort, even as much new space activity shifts toward commercial development.