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Guest: Dr. Greg Autry; Topics: an inside view of space policy, commercial space, and space entrepreneurism. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.
We welcomed Dr. Greg Autry to the show for this one segment 70 minute discussion on the behind the scenes look at making American space policy, space entrepreneurism, building a true space economy and much more. We started our discussion with Dr. Autry by commenting on Rep. Jim Bridenstine as President Trump's nominee to be the new NASA Administrator. Dr. Autry talked about the recent confirmation hearings for him and was disgusted by the display of partisanship during the hearings. He said that space had always been a bipartisan issue and he would hate to see it slip into the type of partisanship fighting we see with so much of our federal government. Our guest told us why he supported the nominee, then I asked him about the position of Deputy Administrator. This was followed by a question attempting to clarify the roles of both NASA and the new administrator as compared to the new National Space Council. In his reply, Dr. Autry talked about the economic development of space and that this was a real interest of the administration and multiple branches of the government that participate in the National Space Council.
One of the listener questions dealt with a potential new policy of returning to the Moon. Greg addressed this question in the context of economic development, including cislunar development. He said there was lots of revised interest in the Moon and economic development. Don't miss all of what our guest said in response to this question and the need for economic development in space.
Bob from Seattle asked a question about space advocates and how they can get their ideas to those that influence and make policy. Don't miss all of what Greg said in response to this question but for the most part he said it was very difficult to be heard as just one person. He suggested joining a space advocacy organization such as NSS as they collectively have the ear of congress and influential people. That said, he did talk about those wanting to pursue their own ideas separate from being part of an organization. He talked about the challenges and realities of doing this. Again, don't miss what our guest had to say on this subject.
I asked Greg just what amount we should be spending on NASA. Greg provided us with an historical overview of the NASA budget in dollars and as a percentage of our total budget from Apollo through the Obama years. It is worth paying attention to this information as it depicts not just the dollars spent on space by the various administrations but the percentage of the budget. Remember, as the budget increases, if the dollar amount going to NASA is held constant, the percentage on the budget decreases. A little later in our discussion, I asked Greg just what should we be spending on the budget. Hold on, I am getting to that point in our program but before answering that question, Greg surprised us with his own economic and space tax plan for space development.
First, be sure you listen to what Greg said so you can fully understand and appreciate what he was talking about. Briefly, he suggested that corporations doing space business, an example would be SpaceX, would see their corporate tax payment go only to a special tax program for the economic development of space. Those tax dollars would not go to the general fund. Additionally, the space services would incur use fees, regulatory fees, launch license fees, FAA AST fees and such and those fees (taxes) would also go to the space part of our economy, not the general fund. Dr. Autry said he was about to start talking to members of congress and others about his idea but he said this would be a way to fund the economic development of space. In addition, he said he did not think space would be funded out of the general fund or dislodge entitlement spending. I asked our guest what he thought about the idea of Zero G Zero Tax concept. He said this would not happen and that taxes were needed for funding space economic development. He did mention that startups and entrepreneurs would be impacted, especially in their early years but something might be worked out for this new sector. Listen carefully to Greg's idea and let us know what you think of it by posting your thoughts on The Space Show blog.
Now back to what the NASA budget should be in the opinion of our guest. He said if we went back to the Bush One year 1992 and adjusted the NASA budget for today with the consistent percentage of the total budget of the US, NASA would be funded to the tune of $27 billion/year. However, he pointed out the need for the budget to be in the $30 billion per year range. Be sure to carefully listen to what our guest was talking about in terms of what he thought the NASA budget should be at this time.
I brought up an issue around government dependence for all parts of the private sector given our discussion and the role of government as Greg was pointing out in his commentary. Our guest had very interesting things to say about both the role of assisting private business but more importing, permitting private space business to take place. He said he hoped we would have reasonable regulations and that the government would be like an anchor tenant but that the government role in space was here to stay.
Karen in Denver asked about the awareness of the value of the space economy with the general public. To respond to Karen, Greg told us a true story with facts regarding GPS and the trucking industry. Make sure you hear it and the value it added to the economy which as he pointed out was considerably more than both the defense and the NASA budgets combined.
Another listener asked what the space policy pro see when looking at a potential policy such as returning to the Moon that a typical space advocate does not see. For the most part, the listener wanted to know what types of issues the policy maker has to deal with and consider that advocates gloss over or are simply not aware of re the potential policy. Greg had much to say in response to this question so be sure you listen to the answer. I then asked about the policy maker's consideration of Mars and what goes into the decision to say defer Mars for the Moon. He said they were not deferring Mars but enabling Mars. Again, don't miss all of what Greg said about going to Mars. In his response he addressed the need to have a sustainable commercial space industry.
Marshall called to ask our the NASA science and planetary missions helped drive commercial space. You might be surprised by how Greg answered Marshall. This is another don't miss part of our program. Before the program ended, I asked our guest what was the most exciting thing to him re space development. The one that he cited was resource utilization on the Moon. He suggested an American company land on the Moon, bring something back and commercially sell it during the Trump administration to get the matter clarified in court. I asked him what the biggest challenge might be and he said government might not being able to keep up with commercial development and the instigation of unnecessary regulations.
Next up was the first ever anonymous Space Show caller wanting to know Greg's thoughts on the value of the ISS. Greg had much to say in response to this caller. He said he had come to appreciate the value of the ISS more in recent years and explained that answer in details. He said the ISS was certainly driving major components and aspects of commercial space industry development. Tim was our final caller asking about advanced propulsion policy and nuclear propulsion. This too proved to be a fruitful discussion with Greg supporting nuclear propulsion and the nuclear industry.
Please post your comments and questions on TSS blog. You can reach Dr. Autry through me or his USC faculty website page.