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A 4 hour drive in the misty morning of Thursday March 4th, to Dayton Ohio at the Air Force Museum. for a public hearing of the Moon, Mars and Beyond of the President's Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy.
The meeting is the second in a series, and the chance to be present at an event that shows our government in action, is well worth the time. The second day had the Air Force panels, private industry, Senator and former Mercury astronaut John Glenn, Lennard A Fisk, Chairman of The Space Studies Board of the National Research Council and others. I had the chance to meet Paul D. Spudis, a Planetary Scientist at John Hopkins University, for just a moment, at one of the few short breaks that pointed to the fact that Chairman Pete Aldridge does seem to lead a timely hearing.
This second meeting had 30 minutes in the time line for general public comments. While I saw only 20 or so slips in the bowl of people wanting an chance for a two minute slot, the luck of the lottery of 12 others, kept me on the sidelines.
One item that struck me the most, was Hewlett Packards Chairwoman and CEO Carleton Fiorina's comment and question on the concern of of some citizens when the military gets involved in any endeavor. The answer given, in general, was that the Air Force and the military have many existing treaties in place, that are in effect with certain rules and law that the military must use in their every day discussion making process. The other part of the answer was in part to be strong and in the lead of technology, in order to be a good protector. I very much liked the comments of the panel, as I grew up in the sixties on SAC Air force bases and watched as my Dad worked to keep the electrical systems of the B-52 bombers in flight ready condition. The words Peace and Freedom surrounded us.
As I looked upon the commission members as they listened to the witnesses, I wondered if they shared one thought I had. On Wednesday March 3rd while I was at ASI/MOO (on another rained out work day). Michael Mealling had a twiki page showing his comments as he watched the 1st day of the hearing. I could not see the hearing, but could only read Michael's comments. The one that explained part of what I saw the second day, was the word infomercials. In this just in time, not much time to prepare world, the witnesses had very little time to prepare their testimony. Yet what I noticed of some, but not all, was a presentation based more on who and what we are, and why we want to be included in any government big ticket spending program. Rather than what the charter of this commission was asking for, answers to the Presidents questions. As a private citizen I wondered how they all planned to spend some part of our tax dollars.
Maybe those of us who are more interested in the use of private commercial ventures may yet get a chance to to get a word in at one of the remaining hearings.
John R. Schrock is in the building industry, a team leader and board member in The Moon Society, and A Scout Leader in central Indiana. And in the process of being a OutPost of the Moon Society.
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