Crash Course in Space Policy


Dominique M. Awis

BA Political Science

College of Charleston

May 2015


 .pdf available here:


Crash Course U.S. Space Policy 

Tweet or message to @spaceloss on Twitter for further help

4 Week Course


Week 1:

The Space Race, Creation of NASA, and Space History

Space Act of 1958



Logsdon, Introduction and Chapter One

Logsdon, John. Decision to Go to the Moon. 1970. MIT.



Sadeh, “Historical Dimensions of Space Age,” by Launius

Sadeh, Eligar. Space Politics and Policy. 2002/3. Kluwer Academic Publishers

Week 2:


Rationales for Space Exploration

 Sadeh, “Rationales of the Space Program,” by Handberg



Launius, Chapter 2

Week 3:


US Presidents and space exploration

 Logsdon, “10 presidents and NASA”



Sadeh, “Presidents and Space Policy,” by Krug

Week 4:


Congress and space exploration

  Sadeh, “Congress and Space Policy,” by Johnson-Freese



Hogan, Chapter 6. “SEI, Policy Streams, and Punctuated Equilibrium”

Hogan, Thor. Mars Wars. 2007.

*** Leave the rest up to you!! ^.^  






On NASA and “the fetish for the artifact”

On the “Fetish for the Artifact”

NASA’s dangerous venture into Technocratic Progress and why the US needs to realign civil space to serve National Security interests

By Dominique M. Awis

15 November 2016

Walter McDougal’s Pulitzer Prize winning book (a part of Roger Launius’ coined New Aerospace History) credits Soviet involvement in the Space Race of the 1950s and 1960s as stemming from Bolshevism (progress) and Communist lead technocracy, or leadership from technical experts.

The US, when seeing how a secure nation might benefit from technocratic progress, took up arms against the Soviets and entered the Space Race, effectively beating the Soviets to the Moon.  

In 1957 and 1958 Congress held many hearings with witnesses from all branches of the military to come together in an agreement on how to proceed, and a civilian agency was created called the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

As Scott Pace tells us, Apollo days were geopolitical, meaning: long gone.  We effectively have no Space Race, we’ve already won.  As WD Kay would ask, [now] “what are the US’ space problems?”

Bottom line: we don’t have a direct space “problem” to solve; we just have an agency and money to get things done.  How can we use it to our best interests if we have no “enemy” to defeat and no objective to complete (Apollo)?

NASA hasn’t helped.  NASA is too focused on the progress and not focused on the Nation’s best interests.  For example, NASA was ordered by Congress to locate nearly all “city destroyer” sized asteroids, and NASA, a decade later, is still only at roughly 25% observations of those asteroids.  Without tracking them, it would be hard to protect ourselves and our cities from them.

You had one job NASA.

This is where the term “fetish for the artifact” comes into play.  The artifact is the machine, the science, the vehicle, the progress.  One gets so wrapped in the “fetish” (progress) and “artifact” (advancement) that one forgets civil space policy’s real purpose: to aid civilians and the government that serves us.  If we’re only chasing tomorrow’s progress, we’re missing out on what space can achieve for us today.

Here’s what I propose:  

  1. Going to the Moon: Lot’s of security there; communicating with China and Russia yet keeping them at a safe distance.
  2. Privitization or rather, boosting commercial space industries instead of allowing NASA 16 billion on its own.  Give SpaceX some Mars money.
  3. End NASA’s climate crusade and let it focus on space and give NOAA NASA’s infrasctructure to handle the climate (the real climate agency should handle it to be fair).

**** dA

Why space needs a popular revolution

Why space needs a popular revolution

by: Dominique M. Awis

13 November 2016

Dr. Alan Steinberg (2011) performed one of the most important studies in the small yet interesting canon of the quantitative space political sciences by finding the crucial relationship between public opinion and NASA spending: a negative relationship was found suggesting as spaceflight gains popularity and support, NASA’s budget will actually decrease.

Upon repeating this analysis using a wider range of days yet the same metric of measurements, this correlation stays the same: negative.  Since the budget hasn’t increased all that much since the 1970s (Graph 1), popular support may appear to actually be working against a NASA budget increase (Graph 2).

[Graph 1] and [Graph 2]

The relationship shows that while public opinion of spaceflight is overall popular with the public, positive popularity really isn’t helping space’s cause.  There might be many reasons for this but one is mainly that public opinion of space, despite being popular, doesn’t have an effect on space flight spending at all.

Space as a popular issue with the public doesn’t mean that much in Washington

This is likely because space policy isn’t all that popular in DC (demand for it by states) and that overall while the public is on board with spaceflight spending, they lack the motivation to push government for it.  One thing is certain: our remedy that increasing popular support for spaceflight incrementally is going to dramatically increase NASA spending is not working.  Incremental efforts don’t yield dramatic results; dramatic efforts could however.  Wonks typically have one remedy for getting a popular issue on the government or commercial table for a budget increase: popular crisis.  

Space needs a popular revolution.

Space needs a crisis and fast.  A good crisis; the kind of crisis you rally behind to promote an idea that will fix actually everyday problems.  A popular crisis.  A revolution in fact.  Space wonks need to get the word out that investing money and effort into space now is going to fix popular problems.  What popular problems can space fix?  Space can “fix” all sorts of “problems” ranging from national prestige and defense, to economic and scientific problems, even more modern rationales for space spending such as humanitarianism, sustainability, and species survival, but these “fixes” don’t address popular “problems.”  We don’t quite have a problem of species survival despite Elon Musk’s futuristic concerns.  So how can we make space a solution to a popular problem?

Everyone can use a little escape especially given the current economic and political climate.

Escape isn’t a tough sell given the economic difficulties and borderline toxic political discourse and “selling space” isn’t hard given space is a free and unlimited resource.  

Space …..

Good luck everyone!!

Citation: Steinberg (2011) Space Policy Responsiveness: the relationship between public opinion and NASA funding. Space Policy Journal.


Crucial thanks to Dr. Matthew Nowlin from College of Charleston whom I’ve learned a great deal about policy process models and budgets under the advisement as a research assistant June-November 2015.  I would also like to thank Dr. Jordan Ragusa also from the College whom I’ve learned a great deal about public opinion research while his research assistant June-July 2016.