Congressman #Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma recently revealed that he had been called in for a second interview with the Trump administration for his sought after job as #Nasa Administrator. Bridenstine suggests as anyone would looking for a new job that the second interview is a good sign. The second interview also suggests that the Trump administration is beginning to firm up its long-awaited space policy and wants to hear Bridenstine’s thoughts on the matter.
Stories in the media have swirled since before Donald Trump was sworn into office that the new president was contemplating a new direction for NASA. The latest revelations consist of questions the Trump transition team had for the space agency concerning lunar mining and commercial partnerships..
The questions suggest two things about what Trump and his people are contemplating.
While Trump is not likely to give up on the Journey to Mars, he is very liable to focus NASA’s attention on a return to the moon in the near term. The moon, unlike Mars, has every potential for achievements to occur during the Trump presidency. Whereas President Barack Obama was content to start a process that might eventually lead to Mars, typical political mindset, Trump has a different view of matters. Trump, owing to his business background, would like to see actual accomplishments happen during his presidency. If he could be the president, who presided over Americans returning to the moon, all the better.
Trump also seems to be interested in emphasizing #commercial development as part of NASA’s mission. Traditionally the space agency was tasked with fulfilling American political goals while doing real science in space.
In the 1960s one of those goals was beating Russia to the moon. More recently, the overriding goal has been to foster international cooperation in space. In 2004, President George W. Bush added commerce in the form of the Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) program, something President Obama doubled down on in the Commercial Crew program. Now President Trump seems disposed to expand NASA’s commercial mandate into lunar mining. The initiative will have all sorts of ramifications for the future direction of the space agency and the American economy.
By all accounts, Bridenstine, who has done quite a lot of thinking about space across a whole breadth of areas, is on board with this approach, which is a powerful argument for his being NASA Administrator. While many in the aerospace community praise the idea of the congressman heading up NASA, they note that unlike previous space agency chiefs such as Mike Griffin and Dan Goldin. Bridenstine is not an engineer and has no direct experience in aerospace aside from his service in the Navy. On the other hand, Jim Webb and Sean O’Keefe were also non-engineers, and they were considered very effective in the job.