“The sun has already set on the days we made those choices. We must
concentrate on what we can do tomorrow; we can’t relive yesterday.”
–Zeddicus Zu’l Zorander in “Blood of the Fold” by Terry Goodkind
In that moment of crystal clarity, a question I’ve heard repeatedly over the last 18 months came to mind: “Who’s fault is it that we have a gap in US domestic access to low Earth orbit?”
My position: Who cares? The decision was made for a number of reasons; more importantly, the decision was made a long time ago and is behind us. Reality is here, now. The gap is upon us. If we intend on continuing to be a leader in space exploration, it’s time to tackle some hard questions such as these:
- Why do we choose to explore space?
- How can we best marshall the resources in a fiscally-responsible manner to develop and operate the infrastructure and systems needed?
Until we are of a common mind on the answers to these questions and others, we will continue to be at odds, and the bickering will continue. As will the gap.
Clearly, NASA needs to work hard(er) with the Hill and White House on the best way forward for the Agency, even if that means tackling the sticking points between Executive policy and Congressional authorization. The emerging space sector has the daunting task of delivering on some very high expectations while navigating the shifting maze of Government regulations, intellectual property rights, indemnification, contractual mechanisms, and so on. Together, the public and private sectors need to explore and establish the kinds of partnerships that will bring greater value than if each were to go it alone.
We can’t move on if too many of us insist in living in the past and continuing to play the blame game. The sun has already set on the day we made the choice to retire the shuttle. We must concentrate on what we can do for tomorrow.
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto/konradlew