During the summer of 2006 this image was generated to capture the perspective that LEO will be getting crowded and we could either choose to compete in a crowded LEO or lead the International team to explore beyond LEO. Mr. Coats decided that consistent with the Agency vision, we should begin focusing our sights on leading the integrated International team, comprised of both government and private industry to extend human presence beyond LEO. (Yes, I know Mars does not orbit the Earth, but the figure is trying to represent the idea that the next destination beyond the moon is Mars).
Leading, we have found, is a tricky word. It carries so many different connotations with so many different communities. For JSC and NASA, leading the integrated International team is only possible if the leadership of each participant in the team is acknowledged. Two years ago Mike Coats encouraged each organization to reach out to the leaders across the space flight community and across industry to benchmark and where it made sense to partner with those organizations. He realized that capability will continue to grow outside of our gates and that humanity’s ability to reach beyond LEO lay in bringing together the acknowledged leaders in the various communities. His call for benchmarking and partnerships has led to strong collaborations with the Engineering leadership across the Agency and with the software development and simulation expertise at
Ok, so what does this have to do with the growing space faring capability in the International community that is highlighted in the Washington Post article? I believe NASA’s current strengths address the future described in the article in three ways. First, the International Space Station has given this Agency the unique ability to collaborate and integrate the efforts of an international team. We have established relationships that we can continue to strengthen as the International community grows their Space Exploration capabilities. Because of these relationships we can celebrate the strengthening of the international team instead of bemoaning the fact that they are gaining capabilities as implied by the
Finally the Center and the Agency is focusing more and more on growing an environment and culture of innovation and collaboration. An organization that is continually innovating will continue to grow and adapt to the changing dynamics surrounding it.
What do you think about the Washington Post article? Do you agree or disagree? If you agree, how can the Agency better position itself?
Sharing the Vision,
Steven Gonzalez, Deputy, Advanced Planning Office