At this point, the space policy positions being taken by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are probably a great deal more relevant for the long term future of human space exploration than those offered by the U.S. presidential candidates, but for what it is worth, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have op/eds in Space News offered by surrogates.
Trump’s policy, advocated in a two-part piece by Robert Walker and Peter Navarro calls for a “peace through strength” approach to counter the rapidly expanding military space capabilities of Russia and China, where hyper-sonic kill weapons threaten to raise the technological stakes even higher:
“To move boldly forward, we must recognize that many of our military needs can be met with commercially available launch, communications, and observation capabilities. This business-oriented approach will reduce costs while accessing new advances on a timeline significantly quicker than current, outdated military procurement procedures.
Such an increased reliance on the private sector will be a cornerstone of Trump space policy. Launching and operating military space assets is a multibillion-dollar enterprise employing thousands, spurring innovation, spinning off civilian applications like GPS, and fueling economic growth. Today’s backward-looking acquisition policies must be immediately and substantially reformed as a priority action.”
The Clinton op/ed, offered by Jim Kohlenberger, is primarily focused on global warming and climate change, offering the following where actual exploration is concerned:
“Secretary Clinton is committed to a robust space exploration program that continues our presence on and commitment to the ISS, enables and promotes American commercial space leadership, pursues bold missions into deep space, and supports NASA’s commercial crew program. President Obama challenged NASA and the private sector to seek a bigger vision, and take bolder action on space – and as a result we are already seeing incredible progress. Private companies are now bringing cargo, and soon crew, to the ISS. We are reaching further into the solar system than ever before. And because of strategic investments in the future, we are regaining a leading share of the global launch market for the first time in years.”
Regardless of the outcome, it is interesting to consider the fact that due to President Kennedy’s Apollo challenge some 45 years ago and what it ultimately accomplished, we still think of space policy and space programs as something uniquely shaped by whoever holds the Oval Office. My guess is that it will take a lot less than 45 more years for that mindset to change.