Updating Commerce's Space Office

Good to see an update on Space Politics about "reviving" the Department of Commerce's Office of Space Commercialization. (Clicking over there, I see the ol' office's website could use a bit of freshening up, too.)

But I'm surprised to hear that the office may focus on established rather than emerging space industries.

Jeff Foust, repoting from inside the beltway as usual, reports on buzz he's hearing that indicates "there may be more of a focus on existing service industries -- such as communications, remote sensing, and navigation -- than on some of the more emerging fields, like space tourism and other suborbital space applications."

This approach sounds off-base to me, and I fully agree with Jeff that "smaller, entrepreneurial ventures might benefit more from the office's promotional efforts than larger established companies, which can afford (and do) a lot more on their own -- especially if the office's budget is relatively small, as appears to be the case at least for FY06."

The Department of Commerce has housed some form of commercial space office since 1988. First was the Office of Space Commerce, which then became the
Office of Air and Space Commercialization (and the "air" apparently got in because Congress wanted to avoid confusion between commercial space and real estate). In 1996 the office moved to the Technology Administration; and most recently, in 2005, it ended up at NOAA. (And I don't know when Commerce officially dropped the 'air' or if it ever did.)

Meanwhile, whatever its name or location, if the hot commercial space developments of the past few years don't signal to this office it's time to focus attention on the entrepreneurial side of things, I don't know what Commerce could be waiting for.

For now, congratulations from SLP to new director
Ed Morris (who made the move from Orbital Sciences Corporation but still loves the initials OSC). (By the way, Jeff says he's not looking for a job offer and I would say the same for myself, except that I'm from NYC where we don't pass in advance on any tempting opportunity :)

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