Broadcast 574

19 Nov 2006 Dr. James R. Wertz
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Dr. Jim Wertz and his Deep Space Message" My name is Jim Wertz and I’m the President of Microcosm in El Segundo, CA. At the end of the Space Show on Friday, Dr. David Livingston asked the following question: What can “Spacers” do to help make it happen? to help those who are in the technical trenches of space exploration? A: Ultimately, David, what helps most is political and popular support for space exploration. So to rephrase your question, How do we make space exploration both exciting and relevant to the American people and to our political representatives? (I’m not yet ready to concede that this can only be done in Russia, China, or India.) I believe there are three paths that are distinct, but strongly related: The first path: Help sell space to your neighbor The bottom line is that we have to sell space to the American people -- convince them that is truly in the best interests of their children and grandchildren. A real answer to this question will take a bit of time (that’s why I’m looking for a good book title), but here are a few points to start with: • We need to honestly admit that something has gone pretty badly wrong -- space is too expensive and takes too long, but many people in the space business are working hard to fix it. • We need to recognize that some answers that have been used for many years (such as the benefits of space spin-offs) are simply bull -- if we want to invent a new device for helping people in wheelchairs, it would be much better to tackle that problem directly than to hope that a spin-off from space will fix it. • We need to recognize benefits in many realms -- military, civil, and commercial arenas and to try to lay out these benefits to those who will listen. • For those who say, “There are lots of problems now (hurricane relief, the war in Iraq, crumbling highways, and decaying schools); let’s fix these problems first,” we need to respond that building for the future is always hard, but always important. Space is the seed corn that will let our children and grandchildren grow and prosper. We desperately need to conserve both money and natural resources, but we also need to devote some measure of our resources to building our future. Perhaps the most important lesson from Apollo was that remarkable image of the small, blue Earth floating in the blackness of space. It is a very finite planet and we need to protect it. At the same time, if the whole world is to have the benefits that many of us now enjoy in America, we are going to have to find a large supply of resources that can be had without destroying the Earth. Most of these resources exist in space -- materials, energy, and scientific and engineering knowledge. Let’s go get them and use them for the benefit of mankind. The second path: Hold those in charge accountable There is far more that needs to be done in space than there is money to do it. There are solutions, but they need serious technical work and not simply playing in a technology sandbox. Those who are in charge of our space program in the civil, military, and the intelligence communities, should be held to account for how well it’s working and how wisely they are spending our money. Are we the people getting our money’s worth? If not, we need to beat up our military and civilian space leaders to put serious effort into dramatically reducing the cost and increasing the responsiveness of space systems. We can’t continue to kill new initiatives and creative ideas to fund cost over-runs in FatSat systems. A recent Aviation Week article pointed that the 7 top military space programs were over-run by $32 billion. As Senator Dirksen used to say, “a billion here and a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.” What are they doing to cut costs in all aspects of space systems, but particularly in access to space, because that drives most other costs, even if it isn’t itself the largest component? And the third and final path: Make space relevant to the politicians that work for all of us. We need to convince Congress that funding for space is important. We, the people, won’t put up with cost overruns and dramatically expensive programs that drain funding from basic R&D when there is real work that needs to be done to make space accessible for our kids and their kids. The key issue for Congress is to fund multiple programs to reduce the cost of launch and let business take over from there. (It is my experience that Congress is strongly inclined in this direction. Many members of Congress and Congressional staffers do see the big picture quite well, but the manager’s of large programs, and the prime contractors that benefit from them, carry a great deal of political weight that must be overcome by the rest of us.) We need to make it clear to our elected representatives that how they support space is not the only thing we watch, but is a major and important element. Thanks for listening and best wishes. The Space Show wants to Thank Dr. Jim Wertz both for his appearance on the program Friday, Nov. 17, 2006 as well as this important deep space message for the benefit of all on the space show, of all mankind as he said in his comments and for anyone listening as this deep space message is transmitted to the solar system. Its a message for us all and our interstellar community. Dr. Wertz thank you on behalf of The Space Show.



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