Space Policy Goes to the Republican Convention

Eileen Collins Credit: NASA

Eileen Collins
Credit: NASA

Space is rarely an important topic during most presidential election, but at least this year it is being mentioned. Former astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission is scheduled to speak on Wednesday evening. It will be interesting to see if her comments match the tone towards public/private partnerships the party has included in its official platform.

“We encourage public-private partnerships to provide predictable support for connecting rural areas so that every American can fully participate in the global economy. The public-private partnerships between NASA, the Department of Defense, and commercial companies have given us technological progress that has reduced the cost of accessing space and extended America’s space leadership in the commercial, civil, and national security spheres. The entrepreneurship and innovation culture of the free market is revitalizing the nation’s space capabilities, saving taxpayer money, and advancing technology critical to maintain America’s edge in space and in other fields. To protect our national security interests and foster innovation and competitiveness, we must sustain our preeminence in space by launching more scientific missions, guaranteeing unfettered access, and ensuring that our space-related industries remain a source of scientific leadership and education.”

Without rehashing the long and tortured history which interweaves recent changes in space policy from Project Constellation to COTS, Commercial Resupply, Commercial Crew and SLS/Orion, it is worth pointing out that in their rush to defend “Old Space” at all costs, key Republicans in Congress have worked overtime to tear down what has inarguably been one of the more successful public/private partnerships in American history, NASA’s COTS and Commercial Resupply Services program. And this despite the fact that the program began under a Republican president, George W. Bush.

COTS, CRS and Commercial Crew found their strongest advocate however in NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, who was appointed by President Obama after serving as Hillary Clinton’s adviser on space during the 2008 primary battle. Garver, who many consider to be a leading candidate for NASA Administrator if Clinton wins in November, was clearly not ok with Collins’ decision, tweeting and then deleting:

“Shocked Eileen is supporting this anti-science misogynist. Sorry her legacy is now co-opted by self-interested men.”

She has since acknowledged that the tweet was ill-considered.


Posted in: Space Policy

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