I wrote a longer than anticipated series about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA–and darn it, I just noticed it’s Oceanic and not Oceanographic) problems in getting just one satellite up into space. The NOAA’s problems are so bad, they had to have an Independent Review Team get into their business, note the problems, and come up with some suggestions (you can go here to read their assessment).
The thing is, this problem is a recurring theme, for at least the past two decades. Whether it’s the NOAA, the United States Air Force, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)–all of them seem to have extreme difficulty with just building their space systems. If a program does get finished, it’s extremely over budget and not as capable as proposed.
Just to hammer home this point, I happened upon, and am linking to, a Breaking Defense article written last year by Mr. Bob Butterworth. His article, “Doing More with Less Much Scarier Than Budget Cuts,” is a great historical summary of all of the government agencies’ fumbling of space.
For those who can’t be bothered to read it, here’s a very short take: doing more with less wasn’t within ANY federal government space agency capability and it hurt our space capabilities in a big way. We’re still not able to do the things we need to do to be secure in space.
My opinion: our confusion and fumbling with space is obvious to our friends and not-so-friendly governments. Because of this, the Chinese are being quite bold, the Russians are talking of militarizing space, and our own Congress and Senators are quite willing to keep chopping the nose off of the face representing US space defense.
There needs to be a story–not a lie, not a jingoistic panic–but a cohesive, relevant story. Americans care about eating, sleeping, loving, and working in peace. Why space matters to the United States and its citizens needs to be tied into those qualities. It’s quite possible the United States citizenry don’t care about being #1 in space, so we should quit depicting this as a race. But they do care about those other things.
I think I know an answer for this, but if you ask any of our politicians why space, the moon, and Mars, are important to US security AND prosperity policy (not just for NSA spying), you’d probably get confused looks. This needs to change.
- Why is the U.S. helping China militarize space? (fellowshipoftheminds.com)