Spending Less and Getting More: The New Budget Reality
The 10th Reinventing Space Conference took place in Los Angeles between 7-11 May 2012.
Space Budgets WILL get tighter. Last year the Responsive Space Conference became the Reinventing Space Conference in order to put greater emphasis on the importance of reducing cost. It was critical last year, and more so this year. The new budget reality is that there is less money available—to fund new programs, cost overruns in ongoing programs, or anything else that we need to do in space, either civil or military. Cost overruns aren’t going to magically disappear. The most likely result is that all of the small or new programs will be lined up along a wall somewhere and shot in order to attempt to fund the “unanticipated” cost growth of major programs. To prevent this from occurring, we as a community have to demonstrate that we can spend less and get more—that we can meet both current and future needs more responsively and at dramatically less cost. In the words of Doug Loverro at SMC, we need to create the PT Boats of Space to supplement the larger missions that have to continue to exist, but will get less money as time goes on. It’s an urgent problem. Our goal for RS2012 is to try to help. Once again, a classified session (DoD Secret) will be held on Friday, following the unclassified sessions.
RS2012 will accept papers on all aspects of Low-Cost Space, but particularly solicits papers that emphasize changes in technology or new ways of doing business that allow the nation to drive down space mission cost and schedule in the near term and create affordable and responsive space missions, both military and civilian. Such topics include:
Launch — The single biggest impediment to dramatically lower cost, more rapid missions is low-cost, responsive access to space, particularly for smaller satellites. Will the Russians and Chinese be the only ones with low-cost launch-on-demand?
Mission and Systems Engineering — What is the status of low-cost mission design, measures of effectiveness, orbits, and getting information to the end user within hours of an unexpected event?
Applications — What are the civil, military, and educational applications for low-cost, quick-turn-around missions? What can we do with collections of smallsats? (And, of course, how do we get them up there?)
Business — How do we make money on lower cost space missions? Is there a business case for “low-cost, instant gratification”? What does “low-cost” mean to the builder and to the user? Can small businesses help?
Civil Missions — Past conferences have emphasized military applications, but we need to become more inclusive. Can we create good science and civil applications at dramatically lower cost? Can we drive down the cost of all space missions?
Technology — Where are we in plug-and-play, miniaturization, and low-cost, rad-hard components?
Education and Motivation — How do we both educate and motivate the coming generation of space technologists? How do we use Rapid, Low-Cost Space to convince young professionals that space is still the place to build a career?