I’m very pleased to announce that for the first time, The Netroots Nation (Yearly Kos) Convention will feature a panel on space policy, July 18th or 19th in Austin, Texas. The panel, entitled, “Progressive NASA & Space Policy Under a New Administration,” is an opportunity to bring critical space policy issues to light within a potent progressive political constituency– the Netroots– that hasn’t historically paid much attention to space. It is also an opportunity for the Netroots to weigh in on what a new progressive space policy agenda could be under a progressive Administration in 2009.
I will be moderating a panel comprised of prominent progressive bloggers, leading space advocates, and space policy advisors to national Democratic campaigns, including Chris Bowers, Managing Editor of OpenLeft.com, Lori Garver, space policy advisor to the Presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, Patti Smith, recently retired as the Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation for the FAA, and George Whitesides, Executive Director of the non-profit National Space Society. The discussion will address space policy from the following perspective:
“NASA is in crisis–overburdened, under-funded, and inefficient. Yet the progressive legacy of space, which dates back to JFK, is being quietly reborn: NASA can reinvent itself as a critical resource in climate change mitigation; the UN and some in the U.S. military are collaborating to prevent space weapons from becoming an arms race with China; progressive “NewSpace” entrepreneurs are creating new domestic high-tech jobs. Before 2009, a new progressive space policy needs to be devised and advocated beyond the traditional space constituencies, to upgrade Bush’s failing space exploration vision. Who better to initiate this work than the Netroots?
While traditionally a niche constituency on the national political radar, space policy takes on particular importance during the General Election, as 100,000s of aerospace jobs are at stake in the key swing States of Florida and Ohio. This year, NASA’s policy of returning humans to the Moon has come under fire from the Left since it is generally thought of as one of George W. Bush’s signature policy goals– his “Vision for Space Exploration.” Progressives in the space community are working hard to dissociate this policy agenda from the failed Bush Presidency so that it may be considered on its own merits. They are also formulating new space policy goals more central to the Progressive agenda, such as expanding NASA’s role in understanding Earth systems to mitigate climate change, as a bulwark against declining science and technology education in the US, and as a diplomatic tool for peaceful international collaboration with Europe, Russia, and even China. The panel will provide their perspective on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the candidates in the realm of space policy in the General Election, and will weigh in on their vision(s) of a progressive space policy under a new Administration in 2009.