One of the sources of angst among people who care about #Space policy is the silence on that subject, aside from some platitudes, on the part of both the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns. The situation is different than in previous election cycles. In 2012 Newt Gingrich proposed a commercial lunar base, only to see it trashed by the media and Mitt Romney. In 2008, Barack Obama had a couple of space policy proposals, neither of which had the slightest resemblance to the one he eventually settled upon as president.
Jeff Foust, the Space News reporter who runs a website called The Space Review, considered the question of how to tease some detail on space policy from the candidates. He hit on a single question. “Why have a human space program today?”
By “human space program” it is meant the current International Space Station and NASA’s plans for deep space exploration called “the Journey to Mars.” Humans in space is one area where the next president is likely to have an impact on.
To be sure, no question exists that a politician cannot give a non-answer to. Foust proposes a number of rationales, including national prestige/soft power, science, and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. One might add facilitating commercial space, by being a customer and an investor, using the same strategy employed in the commercial crew program.
A number of options face the next president, including facilitating commercial space stations in the post-ISS era, joining other counties to build the “moon village” that the Europeans have proposed, or staying the course on the “Journey to Mars.” Despite the deficit, doing nothing is not a likely option.
Do the candidates even know what they want to do in space? Likely they don’t as they are both concentrating on burning issues such as the economy, terrorism, and how evil and crazy the other person is. But NASA has an outsized influence on both the economy and the national consciousness. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton owe the voters at least a peek into what their thinking on space policy might be when they start to think on the subject. #JourneytoMars #MoonVillage