In this transition period, space policymakers are hard at work on Capitol Hill as we wait on new NASA leadership and the NASA authorization bill to pass through Congress.
But this year, we have a flurry of commercial space activity to look forward to. SpaceX plans to debut its Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, and has already demonstrated full reusability with last month’s SES-10 launch. A number of space startups like Rocket Labs and Vector Space Systems hope to send their first payloads to space with their new launch vehicles, and five Google Lunar XPRIZE teams are ready to make history on the Moon. But every political transition is both an opportunity for progress, and a threat to growth. We cannot grow complacent and let space investment slow.
Lawmakers have a duty to serve the constituents that elected them, and this country gives us the unique opportunity to speak on behalf of our best interests. Seasoned advocates from all backgrounds understand their civic duty to directly engage policymakers. If you are concerned about the direction of healthcare policy, you call your representative. If you are angry about a position being taken regarding human rights, you call your representative.
Space is no different. The need for competitive private sector involvement to make space development and settlement a reality is becoming increasingly clear with each passing year. The ever-growing collection of “NewSpace” companies and startups are pushing the envelope of space technology in ways that have not been seen before, and they continue to develop new, innovative ways to solve decades-old problems.
So we look to citizen space advocates to help sustain this progress. In March, you have the opportunity to directly engage policymakers on Capitol Hill. Every year the Space Frontier Foundation partners with the National Space Society and the Alliance for Space Development to put on March Storm, a multi-day legislative blitz in Washington, D.C. Organizers train volunteers to speak to Capitol Hill staff, and equip them with the resources to advocate on behalf of policies that will expedite the growth of the commercial space industry.
In the long run, every bit of support helps, whether it is a contribution to an advocacy organization like the Space Frontier Foundation, or calling your congressional representatives to voice your support for commercial space-friendly legislation. Congress needs to hear from the citizens they serve.
If you are passionate about space development and settlement, join me in Washington, D.C. from March 12-16 for March Storm 2017. Information on the event, this year’s legislative agenda, and official registration may be found here.
Let Congress know how far you want to go.
Director of Communications, Alliance for Space Development
MPA Candidate ‘17
Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, University of Washington