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President-Elect Obama names Bill Richardson (Space Commerce Supporter) U.S. Secretary of Commerce (News) December 4, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in Bill Richardson, Current News, Obama, private sector, Spaceport, Virgin Galactic.

One small step by Barack Obama; one giant leap for the private space boom?

Today, President-Elect Barack Obama officially announced Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico as his choice for Secretary of Commerce; Richardson is an outspoken supporter of the idea of private space commerce.

Here’s a few telling quotes from Richardson on space, this first one being from a 2006 USA Today article about the spaceport he initiated construction of in New Mexico during his terms as governor (Spaceport America):

“”Richardson says he told his aides: “Go after the big one. Go after 5,000 jobs and something to be remembered for. Go after [Sir Richard] Branson and the spaceport. Politicians are known for talking about 9/11 and gloom and doom, and I like to infuse people with visions of the future and space. It’s bold and risky, but people turn on to that.”‘”
-“New Mexico goes a little pie in the sky with spaceport idea“, by Kevin Maney, USA Today

‘Infusing people with hopeful visions’ is definitely in the Obama style, and in his case, Richardson was using the private space industry’s possibilties to do that. A preview of future Obama policy, perhaps?

Next is a quote from a Space.com article by Leonard David from late November 2008 about Richardson’s space enthusiasm, as it relates to his then-rumored candidacy for the Commerce post:

“Richardson was asked about any possible post he might play in an Obama White House. The New Mexico governor played it a little coy, but said:

“Here’s what I want to be sure of … that the Obama administration is pro-commercial space … that the administration is pro-space, pro-government space, pro-commercial space,” Richardson observed.

Richardson said that “it’s in the interest of our national space industry that commercial space could properly develop … so I will be an advocate wherever I am … hopefully here, still as governor of New Mexico … you never know.””
-“Obama Vetting Bill Richardson, Space Enthusiast” by Leonard David, Space.com

So the man who stated he will be a commercial space advocate ‘wherever he is’ and that believes in ‘infusing people with visions of future and space’ is now the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, being essentially in charge of guiding the administration’s economic policy.

For anyone interested in the development of a private space boom, this is a dream scenario, and a strong indicator that Obama is very serious about some of the things that he stated in his detailed campaign space plan:

“In achieving this vision, Obama will reach out to include international partners and to engage the private sector to amplify NASA’s reach. Obama believes that a revitalized NASA can help America maintain its innovation edge and contribute to American economic growth.”
-Barack Obama’s space plan

Just how much could the private space boom “contribute to the American economic growth”? Here’s another quote from the USA Today spaceport article which gives you an idea:

“[New Mexico] should understand this is a long-haul investment,” says space business analyst Charles Lurio. “Spaceflight is poised for explosive market growth — analogous to PCs (in the 1970s). But exactly how that growth occurs, and in what form, is as uncertain as it was for PCs in the ’70s.”

“Explosive market growth”, analogous to the now-ubiquitous PCs? That sounds like something America could use right now, and with Obama’s appointment of dedicated industry supporter Richardson, it sounds like it’s something we could be starting to see in the very near future. :)



1. It’s Official: Constellation Cancelled, No NASA Return to Moon; Shift Towards Private Space « Luna C/I: Moon Colonization and Integration - February 1, 2010

[…] new businesses” and jobs…As hinted at in his campaign space plan (and by his initial Commerce Secretary appointment of NM Gov. Bill Richardson), Obama clearly believes in the economic potential of an industry-focused NASA. Note that the ISS […]

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