Pres­i­dent Trump sees op­por­tu­ni­ties in space and in­no­va­tion.

Like his pre­de­ces­sor, the pres­i­dent sees op­por­tu­ni­ties in space and eo­nomic in­no­va­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By Bruce Cordell Bruce Cordell was for­merly with Gen­eral Dy­nam­ics. He teaches “Hu­man Space­flight” at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Bill Gates first no­ticed par­al­lels be­tween Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy and Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump af­ter speak­ing with the newly electd pres­i­dent: “But in the same way Pres­i­dent Kennedy talked about the space mis­sion and got the coun­try be­hind that, … there can be a very up­beat mes­sage that [Trump’s] ad­min­is­tra­tion [is] go­ing to or­ga­nize things, get rid of reg­u­la­tory bar­ri­ers, and have Amer­i­can lead­er­ship through in­no­va­tion.”

In­deed, there may be more to Mr. Gates’ JFK-space ref­er­ence than just a metaphor.

The Cold War with Rus­sia greeted JFK upon be­com­ing pres­i­dent in 1961, in­clud­ing the failed Bay of Pigs in­va­sion of Cuba in his first 100 days. Cur­rently, Don­ald Trump is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing real Cold War-style ten­sions with China, Rus­sia and their client states.

Over the last decade North Korea has de­vel­oped a nu­clear weapon and bal­lis­tic mis­sile ca­pa­bil­ity that threat­ens its neigh­bors and (even­tu­ally) the U.S. Re­call­ing ob­vi­ous par­al­lels with the 1960s, Robert Lit­wak (Woodrow Wil­son In­ter­na­tional Cen­ter) and oth­ers call this a “Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis in slow-mo­tion”.

In 1957 the “shock of the cen­tury” oc­curred when Rus­sia un­ex­pect­edly launched the first ar­ti­fi­cial satel­lite (Sputnik) into or­bit. The Amer­i­can pub­lic’s firm be­lief in its na­tional se­cu­rity and tech­no­log­i­cal su­pe­ri­or­ity was se­verely shaken. In 1962 Rus­sia se­cretly placed nu­clear mis­siles in Cuba that were aimed at the U.S. Mirac­u­lously World War III was avoided, but sig­nif­i­cantly, the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis in­ten­si­fied bi­lat­eral com­pe­ti­tion in the 1960s space race. In an ef­fort to lower ten­sions JFK pro­posed a joint U.S.-Rus­sia mis­sion to the Moon in his Septem­ber 1963 speech to the United Na­tions.

It’s chal­leng­ing to iden­tify po­ten­tial 21stcen­tury “Sputnik mo­ments.” For ex­am­ple, in De­cem­ber 2013 China be­came the first na­tion in the 21st cen­tury to land a rover on the Moon. While it at­tracted some Cold War-style con­cern in the space com­mu­nity, there was no Sputnik-level arousal in the Amer­i­can pub­lic.

When China launched a space­craft that flew around the Moon and then suc­cess­fully soft-landed back in China on Nov. 1, 2014, the event was lost in the in­tense me­dia cov­er­age of the 2014 U.S. elec­tions. In fact, in­clud­ing its grow­ing space sta­tion, China was sig­nal­ing its ca­pa­bil­ity to send space­craft and soon hu­mans to the Moon — at least, a mini-Sputnik mo­ment, con­sid­er­ing China’s suc­cess­ful anti-satel­lite pro­gram.

For North Korea, the Sputnik mo­ment and Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis ana­log may soon con­verge. But Mr. Trump’s new re­la­tion­ship with China will hope­fully en­cour­age them to re­duce nu­clear ten­sions. By anal­ogy with our 1960s Rus­sia/Cuba ex­pe­ri­ence, this could eas­ily stim­u­late mo­men­tum to­wards the Moon — either in com­pe­ti­tion with China or pos­si­bly ISS-style co­op­er­a­tion.

In any case, the wa­ter ice (bil­lions of gal­lons) at the lu­nar poles is a strate­gic re­source that can ac­cel­er­ate sci­en­tific, tech­no­log­i­cal and com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment of the Moon as well as Earth-Moon space. And as of now, it re­mains un­claimed.

Both JFK and Mr. Trump in­her­ited slow economies. Pres­i­dent Eisen­hower’s av­er­age an­nual growth over his term was 2.5 per­cent plus a “very slug­gish” re­cov­ery from the 1958 re­ces­sion, and Pres­i­dent Obama’s av­er­age was 2.0 per­cent per year, in­clud­ing the slow­est re­cov­ery since World War II. JFK’s bold so­lu­tion was a dra­matic tax-cut plan for both in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses: “In short, it is a para­dox­i­cal truth that tax rates are too high to­day and tax rev­enues are too low, and the sound­est way to raise rev­enues in the long run is to cut rates now.”

JFK’s tax re­form pack­age worked; ac­cord­ing to Larry Kud­low, “The U.S. econ­omy grew by roughly 5 per­cent yearly for nearly eight years.” And Mr. Trump is fol­low­ing in JFK’s eco­nomic foot­steps.

Mr. Trump’s charisma, vi­sion, and style are rem­i­nis­cent of JFK and he may be able to lead this gen­er­a­tion to Mars and be­yond. In­deed game-chang­ing, 1960s-style decades (“Maslow Win­dows”) fea­tur­ing ma­jor eco­nomic and tech­nol­ogy booms, great hu­man ex­plo­rations, and geopo­lit­i­cal stress ap­pear about twice per cen­tury back to Lewis and Clark.

They are of­ten trig­gered by a Sputnik mo­ment and a large eco­nomic boom, and pow­ered by the so­ci­etal ebul­lience it cre­ates. Al­though def­i­nite signs of un­usual op­ti­mism are vis­i­ble in the mar­kets, cor­po­rate prof­its, and nu­mer­ous sur­veys, we may not know un­til later this year when they will ex­pand into a trans­for­ma­tive JFKstyle boom.


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