February 9, 2017
The companies that supply NASA’s project to one day send astronauts to Mars will be holding their annual conference in the nation’s capital next week. Collectively, they and their federal customer employ over 10,000 workers on the project, the twin centerpieces of which are a huge rocket called the Space Launch System and a crew vehicle called Orion. If you were going to build a case for why our nation still contains the seeds of greatness, this is where your story would begin. No kidding, NASA’s “journey to Mars” may lead to the greatest technological achievement ever, a testimony to what free enterprise and free people can accomplish. And in the process of opening up the pathway to Mars, Washington will create jobs in 49 of the 50 states, most notably Louisiana (where the rocket core is assembled), Alabama (where the rocket effort is managed), Texas (where the crew vehicle is managed) and Florida (where they will both operate, beginning next year). Unlike other infrastructure projects, though, SLS and Orion create mostly high-tech, high-paying jobs, and they lead ultimately to a destination unlike any other in human history. I have written a commentary for Forbes here
Loren B. Thompson is Senior Adviser of GPI , Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University.
The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy of GPI.