Potomac Institute Releases Make America Great Again in Space Report

WASHINGTON (Potomac Institute PR) — The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is pleased to present a new report, Make America Great Again in Space. The report recommends bold new policy to ensure US leadership in space in the realms of commercial enterprise, defense, and intelligence.

Driving American Enterprise and National Security in Space

Make America Great Again in Space examines the essential role of the US Government in laying the foundations for enterprise and economic development, by investing in infrastructure and R&D. It outlines the history of the space industry of today and advocates for continued investment in infrastructure and research needed to support commercial development of space.

Every major nation on Earth, and many corporations and consortia, are making major investments in space infrastructure and R&D. The space economy is projected to be worth $1-4 trillion by 2040. It will take leadership to ensure that America is at the forefront of the growing space economy.

Make America Great Again in Space proposes a reorganization of the US national space program to ensure American leadership in this next space race. It includes a radical new vision for NASA as an enabler and driver of this economic boom.  Make America Great Again in Space declares that space will be a warfighting domain, and that the Department of Defense must begin preparing now.  It also draws parallels between the military’s historic role in supporting commercial enterprise by providing security, and the coming need for security in the growing space economy.  The report describes the need for intelligence capabilities to maintain awareness of activities in space to understand the intent of our adversaries, just as we do on Earth.

The contributors to the Make American Great Again in Space report include Michael Swetnam, Dr. Jerry Krassner, Kathryn Schiller Wurster, Luke Koslosky, Chloe Hite, Erica Turner, Dr. Sara Usher, and Dr. Derek Denning, with contributions and ideas from a wide range of experts. This report is the inaugural product of the Potomac Institute’s Center for Enterprise, Exploration, and Defense in Space (CEEDS), formed to develop strategy and policy for space.

About the Potomac Institute

The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is an independent, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit public policy research institute. The Institute identifies and aggressively shepherds discussion on key science, technology, and national security issues facing our society, providing in particular, an academic forum for the study of related policy issues. From these discussions and forums, we develop meaningful policy options and ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government.

For further information see www.potomacinstitute.org. Media inquiries please contact: kgoodson@potomacinstitute.org, 703-525-0770.

Follow us on Twitter: @PotomacInst

  • Michael Halpern

    trying and failing miserably, the old guys aren’t competitive

  • ThomasLMatula

    Tires yes, but also their aerospace division has built hundreds of blimps and still make the envelopes for the large radar blimps that guard the border areas. So it was as natural for Goodyear to propose airship based structures as for Boeing to build pods for a station.

  • Michael Halpern

    Of course when they actually get the safety ratings, and I believe they are darn close, Dragon has an advantage in that the trunk protects the heat shield until just prior to re-entry.

  • windbourne

    Agreed, which is why I am concerned about Axiom and BA working only with the old companies.
    What is needed is to somehow disassociate these partnerships early on and require competition all the way through.
    But, I do not think that these companies will do that. We will have to see.

  • Michael Halpern

    BA is contributing to cst-100 and getting money and expertise through ULA, so for moment their agreements with ULA make sense and its not like ULA will be the only transportation provider for them, just the first, after the agreement is up it will likely be based off what vehicle makes the most sense

    OATK isn’t in a good position when it comes to launch vehicles.

  • Michael Halpern

    I think they might, all things considered, BA is getting their value out of the deals too, and they know that they are unlikely to be able to sustain a station on ULA flight rates, honestly I think BA is getting the better end of the deal there, i mean BA isn’t shy about using Dragon 2 as an example capsule to dock with BA 330. From ULA/Boeing they get money and experience through CST 100, they get a potential tug/propulsion module through ACES, for the first few launches of their hardware and crews, not a bad deal.

    I don’t know enough about Axiom

  • Michael Halpern

    Actually no, both Dragon 2 and CST 100 are required to be able to be reused at least up to 10 times,

  • Michael Halpern

    Technically BA is leasing BEAM

  • Michael Halpern

    Well recently there are some isolated examples of space R&D that has been mostly privately funded, COTS can be seen as a transition between gov funded and private funded, SpaceX’s reusable rocket program has been completely internally funded. and I would say it was a very good investment, I mean 5 out of their 18 launches last year were on flight proven boosters,

  • windbourne

    ??? What contribution to cst-100 is BA making? I doubt money.
    And ULA is investing into BA?

  • windbourne

    Aces remains on hold. If ULA was serious, they would finish development and testing of it, which also needs R&D on refueling the tank.

  • windbourne

    Yes, a technicality. BA needs a real habitat up there, not a closet.

  • Michael Halpern

    No idea but they are listed as one of the contractors working on it

  • Michael Halpern

    It’s a good start, in order for a private habitat to be remotely feasible however, transportation problems need to be solved

  • Michael Halpern

    My guess is that they are mainly focused on the airbag landing system,

  • Michael Halpern

    You are not wrong, however my guess is that all of the ULA concepts that involve inflatable components, they are partnering with BA with, it feels like for a lot of things ULA needs BA, but once a commercial station market is established, BA doesn’t need ULA,

  • windbourne

    Actually, manned transportation does not and should not , have been solved first.
    We really should have started with adding an empty habitat to ISS, and then focused on manned launches.
    Right now, things will be clustered on boeing and SX. While Boeing got a free ride, SX spent a lot of money in this and will do 1-2 launches / year until private space stations start.
    We really need to add BA or Axiom to ISS NOW.

  • Michael Halpern

    SX has the Dragon Lab varriant of Dragon 2 which may see use without stations

  • Paul451

    Blue Origin has much deeper pockets for development funding than SpaceX ever had.

    And yet they’ve done so incredibly little with it.

  • Paul451

    BA330 needs to fly to be verified,

    And built. A balloon is not a space station. So far Bigelow has tested none of the necessary hardware necessary for a space-station except the skin and the mechanism to inflate small versions.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, they accomplished something that NASA gave up on years ago. Blue Origin also picked up where NASA gave up years ago (DC-XA) and made it work.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Hopefully when NASA finally goes ahead and signs off on Commercial Crew it will be cheap enough for commercial customers to use. That is the main thing holding Bigelow Aerospace back and has been for the last decade. Then of course everyone will say they knew it was a great idea like SpaceX reusing boosters.

  • Michael Halpern

    More like forced to abandon

  • ThomasLMatula

    Years ago Robert Bigelow tried to work with SpaceX, but Elon Musk dumped him, and the biotech industry (Dragonlab) to become a NASA contractor. I recall a radio show where Robert Bigelow discussed how disappointed he was that NASA outbid him using tax payer money. That is why he teamed with Boeing.

    But he is a business man and will probably use SpaceX when it has the capacity to serve him.

  • Michael Halpern

    Reusable rocket programs (gov funded) generally aren’t in congressionals’ best interest, so they have often been short lived or filled with compromise, and only notionally reusable,

  • Paul451

    That is the main thing holding Bigelow Aerospace back

    Not really. They haven’t build a fraction of the things you need to build a space-station. They’ve worked on the skin, and a bunch of unrealistic models. That’s it.

    All those ridiculous mock-ups, but they’ve done nothing to develop the power and thermal control systems. There’s no way to move heat from inside that sun-soaked blob to the radiators. Nor have they developed the actual cooling system. Or the life support. Or…

    It’s not just that they haven’t done it, there seems to be no sense in the company of it needing to be done. They’ve spent the last decade wasting the last decade.

    For example, Bigelow’s oft-repeated claims about the volume of BA-330 vs the ISS’s Destiny module.

    https://www.nextbigfuture.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/BA330b-1.jpg?x71037

    Is based solely on empty space. The BA-330 has about a third the rack-space as Destiny. And most of the rack space is going to be taken up with systems that on ISS are on the external truss and non-habitat modules. BA-330 is a vastly worst research module than Destiny.

    (Also, the racks on ISS have space behind them for independent cooling/ventilation. The limited equipment space on the BA-330 central truss share a single channel down the centre.)

    Likewise, the ISS is considered underpowered. This:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/STS-134_International_Space_Station_after_undocking_6.jpg

    Is underpowered. (And is pushing up against it’s thermal limits (which is extra fun as the cooling systems age out.))

    Meanwhile, every Bigelow presentation has little or no solar arrays. Example:

    https://img.newatlas.com/bigelow-lunar-2.jpg?auto=format%2Ccompress&ch=Width%2CDPR&fit=crop&h=347&q=60&rect=0%2C168%2C1567%2C881&w=616&s=71b08d6d25fc1ffe11770e9b3aaca871

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dZg7o5AeCVk/UPjyBVB9EnI/AAAAAAAAgRI/f4vrtFbf9r0/w800-h800/070222_Bigelow_hmed_1p.jpg

    (And they’ve not developed any of the other hardware in that image; not the docking node, none of the power systems, nothing of that service-module on the left (which at least acknowledges the need.))

    Even the ULA/Bigelow proposal for the DSG:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DT7THdbUQAA9e3y.jpg

    (Although to be fair, none of the DSG proposals have sufficient power.)

    If the stories from Bigelow insiders are to be believed, it’s not unexpected. While they’ve hired a few decent engineers, none of the senior staff understand engineering, and they are all kiss-up/kick-down type managers; while Bigelow himself is a flake, constantly switching direction, starting projects then cancelling them on a whim, at great cost to himself (and others.) He’s started whole divisions, signed up dozens of new staff, convinced them to quit jobs and move states, then cancelled the whole division on the first day and fired everyone.

  • Tom Billings

    Yes, indeed! This new trend is something that had not happened, to the extent of getting something to orbit, between 1942 and 2008, when the Falcon 1 finally succeeded. The vast majority of space R&D funding is still politically directed, however. We will benefit greatly when the market-directed funding dominates that sector completely, by expansion of market-directed funding to make Congressional largess look as picayune as it truly is.

  • Michael Halpern

    Yes but these things take time, especially considering that outside the US most LSPs are either public/private entities or directly part of their host government, and outside of SX and BO the ones that aren’t are small launch and looking to stay in the small launch market at least for now.

  • Jeff2Space

    They’re a real tortoise for sure. New Glenn will be a huge test for them. If they can get that flying reliably, and affordably, they might be able to compete in the launch business while working on New Armstrong.

  • Michael Halpern

    Well they are going straight into heavy lift, however they are also helping potential future customers, with their reusable sub orbital New Sheppard, they probably want New Glenn to be closer to Delra IV Heavy and Ariene 5 phase out