Space Access Update #108  01/31/05 
                 Copyright 2004 by Space Access Society 

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Contents this issue:

 - Space Access '05 Conference Set For Phoenix AZ April 28-30 2005

 - New Administration Space Transportation Policy

 - Who Will Run NASA?

Coming soon:

 - What A Difference A Year Makes: Industry Roundup
 - Space Access '05 Preliminary Speakers List


        Space Access '05 Conference, April 28-30, Phoenix Arizona

We've gotten a number of queries as to whether our conference is 
happening this year, if so when, where's the hotel, and so forth.  We're 
actually pretty close to our usual just-in-time pace on pinning down and 
publicizing these things, but to reassure y'all (and let you start to 
make travel plans) here's where we stand right now, three months out: 

We've narrowed our list of a dozen possible hotels down to a primary and 
an alternate, and our hotel liaison is currently working out a contract 
with the primary.  Both primary and alternate are newer hotels than last 
year's, at about the same room rate - both have, in response to numerous 
requests, high-speed internet - and both have the space we need open for 
our dates (as do several tertiary backups) so we can guarantee the 
conference will take place starting 2 pm Thursday April 28th, running 
through Saturday night April 30th, within a moderate cab or shuttle-van 
ride of the Phoenix airport.  Both hotels are great sites - the primary 
has a wide variety of nearby places to eat drink and shop, the alternate 
is a really nice self-contained resort, and either would work well for 
our conference.  We expect we'll have a contract signed in the next week 
or so, at which point we'll publish the hotel details. 

Take a look at for our 
2004 conference program book to give you an idea what sort of conference 
we put together just-in-time last year.  This year's conference will be 
broadly similar, modulo a year's rapid progress in the field of 
radically cheaper space transportation. 

Space Access '05 conference registration remains at $100 in advance, 
$120 at the door, mail checks to (note new address!) 

 Space Access '05
 5515 N 7th st #5-348
 Phoenix AZ 85014


             New Administration Space Transportation Policy

The President signed off on a new national space transportation policy 
at the end of last year, and there's a lot to like in it.  (Summary at  It formally gets 
rid of the mid-nineties division of labor that gave NASA a monopoly on 
reusable rocket development (which NASA proceeded to expensively botch) 
while confining DOD to expendables; each now can develop to meet its own 
space transport needs.  It also mandates NASA develop new capabilities 
only where its needs can't be met by capabilities already in use in the 
defense or commercial sectors.  It acknowledges the importance of the US 
commercial space transportation sector in general, mandates a supportive 
government-purchase, regulatory and launch-range environment for the 
commercial sector, and specifically supports commercial human 
spaceflight efforts.  It says the US government "must provide sufficient 
and stable funding for acquisition of US space transportation 
capabilities in order to create a climate in which a robust space 
transportation industrial and technology base can flourish", and cites 
fundamental transformation of capabilities and capitalizing on the 
entrepreneurial spirit of the US private sector in that context, which 
implies that at least some share of the funding should go to the 
innovative startups. 

Have we died and gone to heaven?  Well, no, not exactly.  The policy 
necessarily spends considerable time dealing with various aspects of 
the legacy space establishment - keep both EELV's until further notice, 
return Shuttle to flight then retire it when Station is complete, and so 
forth. And it mandates a massive DOD/NASA/industry central-planning 
exercise for "next-generation space transportation capabilities" that we 
suspect has far too good a chance of turning about as many billions into 
as many viewgraphs over as many years as most previous such efforts. 

But this policy allows for and by implication encourages a lot of 
smaller efforts, defense and commercial, outside the old-space megalith 
project complex.  Mammals scurrying around under the dinosaurs' feet, if 
you will.  And it does tell the dinosaurs NOT to go out of their way to 
step on the new arrivals, though absent ongoing adult supervision from 
the top political levels we wouldn't bet the mortgage on that being 
scrupulously observed. 

Ultimately, any such policy depends more on continuing top-level 
political support for its effectiveness than it does on the finicky 
details of this paragraph or that subclause.  Recent history gives us 
some cause for optimism here - we'd estimate that the amount of 
government space funding (out of thirty billion or more overall) 
actually going in what we regard as the right general direction to 
produce a space transportation revolution has risen to a decent fraction 
of 1%.  That doesn't sound like much - but the whole point of our 
revolution is that it doesn't cost much, done right. 

Give us a full 1% for reusable rocket R&D and we'll change the world - 
and under this Administration and this policy, we might just get that 1%.  


                           Who Will Run NASA?

It is no denigration of Sean O'Keefe to say that he leaves NASA still 
short of being a useful and efficient government space exploration 
agency.  Given how wilfully dysfunctional major parts of the 
organization were a few years ago, the fact that all of the agency's 
centers now have some handle on what they're spending and pay some 
attention to what NASA HQ tells them is a triumph.  We thank Mr. O'Keefe 
for the considerable progress, and we wish him well in his new job. 

But the major strides NASA has made in accounting and accountability 
are, we believe, only a start.  If the agency is indeed to take the lead 
in resuming outward human space exploration progress without radical 
budget increase, it is going to have to undergo radical transformation.  
Much of what it does now will have to be shut down to free up the needed 
resources.  More vitally, much of HOW it does things now will have to be 
set aside.  Much accreted bureaucracy from the last thirty years has to 
go, organizationally AND conceptually. 

We will not presume to tell the White House who they should pick to 
succeed O'Keefe.  Indeed, this close to his departure, we suspect they 
may well have already made up their mind.  But we will, on the off 
chance someone might be listening, say a few things about what sort of 
person we think should take over at NASA.

He should have a thick skin.  He'll be making painful changes and he's 
going to take considerable flack.  (For the same reasons, he should also 
have the confidence and ongoing support of the White House.  Strong 
Congressional support, away from existing NASA centers, wouldn't hurt 

He should be well-grounded (or at least extremely and independently 
well-advised) in space technology.  He'll be making important technical 
decisions, and the old NASA bureaucracy has a long history of trying to 
stack the deck in their advice on such.  

He should probably not be from within NASA.  The old-line NASA 
bureaucracy demonstrably has a number of pernicious technological and 
organizational prejudices; the average career NASA person will tend to 
have internalized far too much of this baggage. 

He should be bureaucratically astute (or at least extremely well-
advised).  His main job will be not so much conducting future human 
space exploration, but rather finishing the transformation of NASA into 
an organization capable of conducting that future exploration. 

That is still a long shot at this point.  We'd be satisfied if NASA ends 
up merely getting out of the way of the radically cheaper space 
transportation revolution we push for.  But if NASA can actually be 
rehabilitated to the point where it recommences useful outward expansion 
of the human frontier later this decade, we wouldn't mind at all. 


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 "Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System" 
                                        - Robert A. Heinlein