Op-ed | Hillary will expand our space potential
We are fortunate to be entering a dynamic new era in space – one that will enable us to explore new worlds, expand our scientific knowledge, push the frontiers of technological innovation, and achieve our boldest aspirations in space. This forward trajectory has been fueled by pragmatic policies that have brought together our brightest minds, and newest technologies, to forge new frontiers. As president, Secretary Clinton will not only build on our progress in space, but will advance inspirational, achievable, and affordable space initiatives.
While her opponent compares the world’s most capable space program to that of a “third world nation,” Secretary Clinton knows better. She will advance American ideals with a program that balances space science, technology, and exploration; protects our security through Earth systems monitoring; and maximizes the impact of our space program by promoting stronger coordination across federal agencies, cooperation with industry, and collaboration with the international community.
Secretary Clinton understands that to ensure continued U.S leadership in space, it is critical that NASA have the resources and predictable funding necessary to achieve its goals and missions. As president, she will support the key public investments that help drive advances in science and technology, both in space science and in Earth science, and deepen support for strong public-private partnerships that create jobs and improve lives throughout our country and around the world. Further, her administration will work with Congress to ensure that NASA has the right leadership and funding. And, to solve problems more effectively and expeditiously, she will elevate executive branch coordination of federal agency space initiatives and accelerate the development of advanced new technologies — multiplying what we can achieve in space and providing taxpayers even more bang for their buck.
By contrast, Donald Trump says that while “space is terrific,” filling potholes is more important. He’s called the important work that NASA scientists are doing on climate “a hoax.” And his advisers have advanced the idea of cutting NASA’s vital earth science efforts, leaving other agencies to take on the important work they dismiss as “Earth-centric.” That is more than shortsighted—it would actually endanger NASA’s space exploration mission. Our nation’s space launch facilities, including those at Wallops Island and Cape Canaveral, are extremely vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surge. For instance, Hurricane Sandy sliced away about 700 feet of protective berm and 20 percent of the beach that protects more than $1 billion in NASA assets on Wallops Island. And while the facilities at Cape Canaveral thankfully escaped serious damage from Hurricane Matthew this year, the strongest parts of the storm passed only 25 miles offshore.
But Secretary Clinton understands that both NASA’s space exploration and Earth observation programs serve to educate, inspire, and advance scientific understanding. And, she knows that climate change is an urgent threat. As our planet warms, melting ice sheets, altering ocean chemistry, and affecting the lives of every person, NASA and NOAA’s low-earth orbit and Earth observation programs are invaluable in furthering our understanding of what those changes mean for everything from the safety of coastal communities to global weather patterns. But there is still much we don’t understand, including how vastly increased amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, oceans, and landscapes may alter the natural carbon cycle in years to come.
To effectively counter the threat of climate change, Secretary Clinton’s administration will carry out combined domestic efforts to increase and strengthen our clean energy infrastructure, slash carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions, and empower agencies like NASA to work with NOAA and other federal science agencies, colleges and universities, the private sector, and the global community.
The global opportunities in space are ever present. While President Kennedy set NASA on a course to win the race against Russia to get to the moon, today, human spaceflight is a global endeavor, with astronauts and cosmonauts living and working together on the International Space Station (ISS). Secretary Clinton is committed to a robust space exploration program that continues our presence on and commitment to the ISS, enables and promotes American commercial space leadership, pursues bold missions into deep space, and supports NASA’s commercial crew program. President Obama challenged NASA and the private sector to seek a bigger vision, and take bolder action on space – and as a result we are already seeing incredible progress. Private companies are now bringing cargo, and soon crew, to the ISS. We are reaching further into the solar system than ever before. And because of strategic investments in the future, we are regaining a leading share of the global launch market for the first time in years.
Secretary Clinton knows that, just like taking on challenges here on Earth, the strongest way to explore and utilize space is by doing so together. Under her leadership, we will have a stronger space program together in partnership with American industry and the international community.
As a young girl, Hillary was so inspired by America’s space leadership that she wrote to NASA about becoming an astronaut herself. As president, Hillary will inspire the next generation of American girls and boys and help ensure that we have a space program that propels us to new frontiers and advances our human aspirations where the sky is no longer the limit.
Jim Kohlenberger is the former chief of staff for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for President Obama, and former senior domestic and technology policy adviser in President Bill Clinton’s White House.