Scott Pace Provides a Window into President Romney’s Space Program

Scott Pace, who among other things is the former Chairman of the Romney Space Policy Advisory Group, recently made a speech at a conference in Beijing which provides a window into what a Romney space program would be like

Pace is a former Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation at NASA and current Director of the Space Policy Institute at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He is also rumored to have been top pick for NASA administrator in a Romney administration. Thus his prescriptions for how the American space program should proceed likely would have been policy had Romney been elected.

Essentially NASA Administrator Pace would have ended NASA’s current asteroid exploration program and focused back on the moon. This may seem to be contradictory to Romney’s often quoted ridicule of Newt Gingrich’s lunar base proposal. But Pace makes a case that only the moon would allow for the participation of both international and commercial partners.

“Human missions to asteroids or Mars are beyond the practical capabilities of almost all potential partners (save perhaps Russia). If there is to be serious effort at engaging international partners, a lunar based architecture is most likely to emerge as the next focus of human exploration. In addition, a lunar focus would provide practical opportunities for using private sector initiative, e.g., cargo delivery to the lunar surface. This could be done in a manner similar to International Space Station cargo delivery, but it would represent at least an order of magnitude greater addressable market even for an initial lunar base with the same number of crewmen as the station.”

It should be noted that Romney himself declined to articulate his own space policy, promising to rely on the recommendation of experts such as Pace for whatever future direction NASA’s space program would go. Pace would very likely have recommended the moon based on fostering international cooperation and encouraging private space development. How a President Romney would have finessed his embrace of an idea he once called “zany” is open to speculation.

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