Posted: 13 September 2016, 4:15 p.m. EDT
Speakers: (left to right) Winston A. Beauchamp, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space and director, Principal DOD Advisor Staff; Steve Jurvetson, partner, DFJ; and Charles F. Bolden Jr., administrator, NASA
by Duane Hyland, AIAA communications
The U.S. can no longer go it alone when it comes to space, said speakers at the opening plenary session of
AIAA SPACE 2016 on Sept. 13 in Long Beach, California. If the U.S. is to move forward, they said, it will be in partnership with other nations, corporations and entities.
The standing-room-only session offered attendees three separate views of space access and use: one from NASA, one from the Department of Defense and one from the investment sector.
Charles F. Bolden Jr., administrator of
NASA, noted that the audience — and the U.S. — must decide whether expanding the exploration and use of space should be done alone or together, arguing that collaboration is the only way forward.
“We are closer to sending humans to Mars today than anyone has ever been,” he said, adding that there’s still a lot to do if we want to see astronauts on the red planet in the 2030s.
Bolden noted that right now NASA is working with private space companies to build a robust commercial market; with academics to develop the needed technologies to take humans to Mars and beyond; and with other partners to develop the spinoff technology that “saves lives.”
Winston A. Beauchamp, deputy undersecretary of the
Air Force for space, continued the theme of togetherness by mentioning the critical bonds between private space-sector companies and the DOD. In Beauchamp’s view, GPS represents one of the best examples of how national security space and civilian markets interact.
Beauchamp also explained that the growing need for cooperation in space has transformed how the DOD does business with its international partners. He said there’s been a paradigm shift of the United States selling its technology to the world to that of collaboration and building greater understanding about each partner’s unique capabilities and contributions to space technology.
“The DO D has completely changed its engagement strategy with our international partners in space,” he said. “For the past 20 years … international partners have expanded tech and knowledge about working in space; now, we seek to learn about their things and join in with them.”
(left to right) Winston A. Beauchamp, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space and director, Principal DOD Advisor Staff; Steve Jurvetson, partner, DFJ; and Charles F. Bolden Jr., administrator, NASA, pose for photo in advance of the AIAA SPACE 2016 Opening Plenary, on Tuesday, 13 September, at AIAA SPACE 2016, taking place 13–16 September 2016, in Long Beach, CA.
Beauchamp also called for greater “normalization of the use of space” through international standards and guidelines to bring the world closer to consensus on how space should be used and explored.
“I believe the coalition has an obligation to monitor, track and share what’s going on in space,” he said.
Steve Jurvetson, a partner at
DFJ, pointed out that investment firms like his provide the capital for any number of smaller companies operating in the space sector — especially in the realm of small satellites.
He said these satellites are used by companies and government agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to monitor environmental threats all over the world.
“What does planetary image look like?” Jurvetson asked. “Studying logging roads in Indonesia, answering questions like how many trees are on Earth? What is going on with illegal gold mining in Peru? Sugar cane harvest’s impact on Brazil; natural disasters in California. Using satellites to detect illegal operations.”
Jurvetson argued that there should be a planetary approach, with everyone together gathering data and merging it rather than individually collecting it and compartmentalizing it.
He said the years ahead will be good ones for technology development as buy-in costs decrease and international cooperation grows.
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