I have an essay online about why the candidates should throw a bone to those who care about space policy: [S]pace policy could be a key long-term component of what’s typically at the top of voters’ domestic worry listÃ¢â?¬â??jobs. It’s always tricky to predict what sort of job creation figures a given innovation will yield, but if it turns out to be at all analogous to the aviation industry, the space industry gushes with job growth potential. Over 100,000 Americans get paid to fly planes, but most of those with aviation-related jobs are not pilots, they’re engineers, mechanics, airport managers, aviation educators, crew schedulers, and so on. Just one century after the Wright Brothers, the aviation industry employs 2.2 million American civilians. And while there’s much reason to be optimistic about the technology behind the private space industry, there’s reason to be pessimistic about the process that controls it. In many ways, the top-down approach that governs space exploration is the opposite of the bottom-up private experimentation which invigorated aviation.
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.