Space News reported that the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, whose mission is to transfer some of Silicon Valley’s culture of innovation to the Defense Department, has added two new members. They are Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com and the launch company Blue Origin and media personality and celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The inclusion of Tyson has raised some eyebrows.

Bezos’ inclusion on any panel having to do with innovation is a no brainer. After upending how retail sales are conducted with his online store, Amazon.com, he entered the commercial space industry with Blue Origin.

Blue Origin is currently conducting flight tests of a reusable suborbital launcher called New Shepard with a view of taking paying customers on jaunts just past the edge of space. Eventually, the company would like to scale up to an orbital launcher. Blue Origin is also helping to build a new rocket engine BE-4, which would be used for the orbital launcher and the Vulcan launch vehicle that United Launch Alliance is planning.

Tyson, on the other hand, is not usually associated with innovation or, being a man of the left, the military.

He sees himself as the heir of the late Carl Sagan, as a science popularizer with his own version of the series “Cosmos” and a podcast/TV show called “Star Talk.” Tyson, as the director of the Hayden Planetarium, is most famous for starting the campaign to downgrade Pluto from a full-fledged planet to a “dwarf planet.” He is the author of a number of books and research publications. He is a warm advocate for expanding NASA’s space program and is a skeptic of commercial space, which places him in opposition to the approach by Bezos and the so-called “New Space” style of doing space travel.

The nearest that can bed speculated on is that Tyson infuses the panel with a certain degree of star power because of his media presence. Whatever his contributions to the idea of getting the Defense Department more innovative he can lend publicity to the idea that the government can learn from the practices of Silicon Valley companies.

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