USAF contracting; Spaceflight – sustainability beats destination

The Air Force is considering new approaches to procurement of big space items such as using fixed price contracts: USAF Considers New Contracting Methods – Aviation Week – Nov.15.10. === Joan Johnson-Freese of the Naval War College argues that it was always unrealistic to expect that the status quo could be maintained indefinitely for NASA and DoD’s space programs: Reality Bites: The 2010 National Space Policy – For example, Constellation

> was doomed from its inception as a mismatch between the ways-means-ends required for any kind of programmatic success.

The money and public support are just not there during this difficult economic period. Programs like Constellation might have been kept in some sort of zombie-like state but the President instead

> directed a new path for NASA and human spaceflight, one based not on a destination, but on long-term commercial development and sustainability. Sustainability — with its broad implications from human spaceflight to protecting the space environment — is increasingly recognized by all space sectors as key to space security in the future.

She goes on to point out the need for NASA to support commercial spaceflight but also for the commercial industry to respond with its own initiatives and investments:

> The 2010 NSP offers a realistic blueprint for renewal rather than a blueprint back to the Moon, or a space battleplan that threatens the very sustainability of the space environment required for security. The challenge for NASA is to develop innovative, affordable and yes, inspiring, plans to take America forward in human and robotic space exploration. The commercial sector’s challenge will be to not only facilitate NASA’s plans, but to innovate and implement plans of their own to go beyond NASA and truly develop space, perhaps in partnership with the government.

Update: A posting by Jeff Foust about this essay: Space policy tough love, and space security recommendations – Space Politics.


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