Tuesday, January 13, 2009

AIA Report: U.S. Lead in Space 'Perishable'

Andy Pasztor
Wall Street Journal

LOS ANGELES -- Seeking to raise the profile and funding of U.S. activities in space, an aerospace industry group warned that sweeping policy, budget and institutional changes are necessary to protect what it called America's "perishable" lead in satellites, rockets and exploration efforts.

In a report released Monday, the Aerospace Industries Association urged the incoming Obama Administration to end long-standing turf battles over control of satellite projects by mandating government-wide cooperation between the military and various spy agencies. The study also calls for creation of a new, high-level office to oversee the effort, which would report directly to the White House.

Concluding that America's "lead is perishable" and a number of countries have the "vision and resources to equal or even supplant our dominance" in space endeavors, the study recommends significantly closer coordination of federal and commercial initiatives in imaging, collection of weather data and human space flight. "In a very real sense the 'space race' is far from over," according to a cover letter from Marion Blakey, the association's president and chief executive. "We might not be racing, but our global competitors certainly are."

While some of the conclusions repeat familiar industry positions -- including easing of export controls on space hardware -- others break new ground such as recommending immediate fixes to what the study calls "existing and growing gaps in climate measurements and weather satellite coverage."

The report comes amid growing uncertainty about U.S. space priorities, contrasted with aggressive spending hikes and high-level focus on space capabilities by the governments of China, India, Japan, Russia and others.

Read more HERE.