Commercial Space Backer Leaving White House Post

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WASHINGTON — James Kohlenberger, chief of staff for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and a proponent of commercial space initiatives, will leave his post at the end of February after two years serving under U.S. President Barack Obama, according to a Feb. 7 e-mail obtained by Space News.

“I’m proud to have helped plant the seeds of innovation so deeply into the President’s agenda,” Kohlenberger wrote in the e-mail, which was sent to undisclosed recipients. “I figure its (sic) best to leave at the top of your game, having accomplished so much, and at a time when the President is so firmly focused on technology and innovation as the primary engines for growing the economy and winning the future.”

Last February when Obama rolled out his 2011 budget blueprint for NASA, including controversial plans to kill the nation’s lunar exploration program in favor of fostering a commercial market for privately built space taxis, Kohlenberger defended the decision. 

“This isn’t a step backwards,” he said during a February 2010 teleconference with reporters. “I think the step backwards was trying to recreate the Moon landings of 40 years ago really largely using some of yesterday’s technology instead of game-changing technologies that can take us further, faster and more affordably into space.”

In his e-mail, Kohlenberger said he has no specific plans for the future.

“As I did after leaving the Clinton White House, I am likely to once again set up a public policy consulting practice — helping advise a broad range of innovation leaders, organizations, and coalitions while also focusing on those ideas that I am most passionate about,” Kohlenberger said, referring to his role as a senior technology policy adviser to former Vice President Al Gore in the administration of President Bill Clinton. “But in all, I’m keeping an open mind.”

 

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