Broadcast 1549 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

29 Apr 2011 Rand Simberg
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Guest: Rand Simberg. Topics: U.S. space policy, influencing Congress and preparing for NASA budget cuts. Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. We welcomed back Rand Simberg to the program to discuss our developing U.S. space policy. Check out his blog at The Competitive Space Task Force think tank organization ( was mentioned near the end of the program. For contrasting perspectives on U.S. space policy, listening to the interviews with Dr. Tom Jones on April 25, 2011 and Dr. Mike Griffin on April 26, 2011. Mr. Simberg began our two hour discussion with an overview of space policy, space leadership, and our options for moving forward. Mr. Simberg commented on congressional members more focused on jobs in their districts than on "good space policy" for the nation. Going right into the FY 12 analysis and congressional policy, our guest talked about the Space Launch System concept for heavy lift. Rand often referred to our clinging to an Apollo style space program that was no longer viable for today's world let alone our fiscal crisis. The absence of leadership was a theme that both our guest and I discussed throughout the program as did listeners. Later in this segment, with so much focus on the problems in congress, I asked callers and our guest how to change or modify the congressional process. It seems this is the $64,000 question. We also talked about commercial competition and CCDEV2 along with the need to have multiple providers of services for intelligent risk management. At the start of the second segment, I asked our guest if government subsidies could seed the development of commercial markets. Rand said yes, cited some examples from our past history, but said the subsidies had to be smartly planned and carried out. We talked about commercial markets with Bigelow Aerospace and discussed human rating of rockets. Rand talked about Space X flying their own astronauts on Dragon as both their rocket and Dragon were being designed for human spaceflight safety. The company might decide to fly their own people before any NASA approval for government astronauts. In addressing our fiscal issues, he said we cannot avoid a fiscal reckoning and that NASA should have a plan for spending using 2008 and 2006 budget levels. Heavy lift vehicles came up & then I asked about the influence of New Space on policy makers. New Space was a minority pressure group, it needed to make lots of noise, and that it would be a long term process to get desired changes into the system. Rand talked about small victories here and there and cited recent examples of this. The issues of White House and congressional leadership again surfaced and Rand cited examples from our past when we had space leadership for the good of the nation. One of the points Rand made throughout our discussion was that space was not important to the policy makers. He said once we understood this, our confusing space policy begins making sense. Rand told us about the space think tank in the Beltway that he helped put together to issue space policy papers for congress and staffers to review. Check out the Competitive Space Task Force website listed above. As the show ended, we shifted to the UK space agency that was recently created and the long standing English role in space development. As for space being an inspiration to students and for STEM, Rand said it was but the impact was already accounted for as a known & a given. If you have comments or questions for Rand Simberg, post them on the blog URL above. Mr. Simberg can be emailed at



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