Luxury LifeStyle – Industry asks White House to keep National Space Council
With Bryan Bender
— Seventeen industry groups are urging the White House to keep the National Space Council.
— OP-ED: Why the Sino-Russian “counter-system” undermines the Artemis Accords and what to do about it.
— The jetset now views space as a serious destination and that could be good for the rest of us, says the co-founder of a luxury travel firm.
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‘STABILITY AND CONTINUITY’: The space industry is ramping up its lobbying for the Biden administration to maintain the National Space Council resurrected by former President Donald Trump. Seventeen industry groups penned a letter to Ron Klain, President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, and Hartina Flournoy, chief of staff to Vice President Kamala Harris, on Thursday explaining why the panel has been so crucial to facilitate partnerships between the civil, commercial and national security space communities.
“Maintaining a White House-level focus on space will provide stability and continuity to the United States’ space endeavors,” they wrote. “Harnessing the space sector’s capabilities will help fuel our economic recovery, help solve the climate crisis, and build the diverse 21st century education system and workforce that America needs and deserves.”
The letter, obtained by POLITICO, was signed by a number of trade groups, including the Aerospace Industries Association, Commercial Spaceflight Federation and the GPS Innovation Alliance. It was also signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Space Florida, which oversees launch facilities on Florida’s coast.
It is the latest push to maintain the interagency panel, as well as its User Advisory Group, a board of academic and industry experts. In December, members of Biden’s transition team polled commercial space leaders on the future of the National Space Council, and the execs “all warmly endorsed it,” one source told POLITICO at the time.
SPACE SPRING BREAK: The three wealthy men who booked tickets this week for an eight-day stay on the International Space Station with Axiom Space will be the station’s first crew that is entirely made up of private citizens. But they are unlikely to be the last, according to Roman Chiporukha, a co-founder of the luxury lifestyle and travel firm Roman & Erica who helped book the ticket for one of the private astronauts heading to space next year.
“The conversations I was having two years ago when we first started are substantially different from today,” said Chiporukha, who works with wealthy clients to plan custom tailored vacations and experiences. “Two years ago, the responses were, ‘Oh this is very funny. The only way I’m going off this planet is when I die and go to heaven.’ Today, the responses are, ‘This is very interesting. How much is this? What is the training like?’”
Civilian astronauts train for the mission at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The training, which lasts 15 weeks nonconsecutively, is quite different from the rigorous, years-long training that astronauts undergo. While astronauts must fly the capsule, operate the International Space Station, and conduct science experiments in orbit, tourists are just along for the ride. The aspiring private astronauts are taught how to go to the bathroom and sleep in zero gravity, however.
“They hang out at the International Space Station,” Chiporukha explained. “They orbit the Earth. They see the sun rise and set every 90 minutes. They can Skype or FaceTime families and just hang out with the astronauts.”
It’s also good news for the Earth-bound masses who can’t afford the $55 million price tag, Chiporukha argues. Astronauts who have flown in orbit talk about the “overview effect,” the transformative experience of viewing our fragile, borderless home from orbit. Wealthy people experiencing this phenomenon could be swayed to begin using their fortunes for good after they return, he predicts.
“They will come back down to earth and say, ‘I’ve always wanted to start a nonprofit that provides clean water to all, or protects the coral reefs,’” he posed. “It might be a slight pivot where they say, ‘You know what: Let’s continue to make money, but let’s do it in an earth-friendly way.’”
‘ENGAGE FROM A POSITION OF STRENGTH’: The Russian and Chinese militaries clearly pose growing threats to the United States in space. But their growing partnership also represents a major risk to the future of space commerce, argues Elya Taichman, a former congressional staffer who is now a law and public policy scholar at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, in a new POLITICO op-ed.
The Artemis Accords, the Trump administration’s feature effort in space diplomacy, lays out a shared vision for the peaceful use of space. But they “have driven China and Russia towards increased cooperation in space out of fear and necessity,” Taichman writes, noting that Russia’s space program “required increased funding that China could provide in exchange for the Russian expertise it craved.” Moscow and Beijing have also announced they are considering building a lunar research base.
That partnership is also creating “a destabilizing counter-system” that not only undermines national security “but also risks the very aim of the Artemis Accords: the expansion of space commerce,” according to Taichman. “A competing alliance in space will prevent the Artemis Accords from developing into customary international law that would increase stability.”
It’s not too late to bring them in, in his view. But time is running out. “…The Artemis Accords represent a rare opportunity for diplomacy with two of America’s archrivals,” he says. “A single legal system will decrease uncertainty and benefit all three nations. Moreover, American technology and investment outstrips both rivals combined. The United States may currently engage from a position of strength.”
SHOULD IT STAY OR SHOULD IT GO? The tug of war over where to locate the permanent headquarters of the U.S. Space Command is far from over. Here are the new rounds in the feud this week:
The Colorado congressional delegation, which wants the 1,400-person command to stay in Colorado Springs, asked Biden to review the former Trump administration’s decision to move the base to Huntsville, Ala.
Also, at a POLITICO Live event Wednesday, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) also called for a review of the selection, alleging Trump picked Alabama over the Air Force’s wishes “to help his political cronies.” The Air Force has denied that the choice was politically motivated.
Now, Alabama is fighting back. Greg Canfield, the state’s secretary of commerce, wrote that “in the end, the Air Force made the right decision,” in a open letter shared with POLITICO, which touts the city’s strong aerospace industry, Defense Department and NASA infrastructure, skilled workforce and long history in the space program.
“You have to remember that this was not a decision that was made lightly,” he wrote. “The bottom line is this: Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal represents the ideal home for Space Command.”
Jim Bridenstine, the former NASA administrator, will be a senior adviser at Acorn Growth Companies, an aerospace, defense and intelligence private equity firm.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Congratulations to Byron Hood, a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, for being the first person to correctly answer that there was an Apollo 7 float at former President Richard Nixon’s inauguration parade in 1969.
This week’s question: We remember the crew of the tragic Challenger disaster 35 years ago this week. How many years was it before the shuttle program resumed flights after the explosion and subsequent investigation?
The first person to email [email protected] gets bragging rights and a shoutout in the next newsletter!
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene believes conspiracy that space laser sparked California wildfires: Gizmodo
— NASA’s Perseverance rover is just 22 days away from landing on Mars: Phys.org
— The space agency is finalizing the location of Artemis’ lunar base camp: Futurism
— SpaceX, Amazon fight over satellite-based internet services pits two richest men against each other: Fintech Zoom
— Elon Musk slams the FAA for “fundamentally broken regulatory structure” after Starship launch delay: Bloomberg
— What happens to the Space Force under the Biden administration?: The Atlantic
— Earth’s space junk “mini moon” will bid the planet goodbye in March: Seattle Times
TODAY The 43rd Committee on Space Research Scientific Assembly continues in Australia.
MONDAY: Astronauts are planning to conduct a spacewalk outside the International Space Station to upgrade the orbiting lab’s batteries.
MONDAY: The Space Foundation holds an event on construction on the moon.
TUESDAY: The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing to consider Kathleen Hicks to be deputy secretary of defense.
WEDNESDAY: Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Ramond joins the Defense Writers Group.
WEDNESDAY: The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Gina Raimondo to be secretary of Commerce.
WEDNESDAY: Lt. Gen. John Shaw, deputy commander of U.S. Space Command, speaks at a Space Foundation event.