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SpaceWaves: How NASA fits into commercialization of space (with video)

Three leaders in NASA programs join SpaceWaves.

SpaceWaves keynote speaker Mark Wiese answers questions about the role of NASA and private space investment

Dooner & The Dude interview Mark Wiese, Max Briggs and Mark McDonald.

No one knows how the space market is going to pan out, but three NASA leaders recommend venture capitalists look for opportunities that are commercially viable as well as beneficial to governments. 

During the SpaceWaves virtual forum Thursday, Dooner and The Dude chatted about commercial opportunities in space with Mark Wiese, manager of deep space logistics for NASA’s Gateway Program; Max Briggs, acting NASA ITech Program executive; and Mark McDonald, chief architect of the Space Technology Mission Directorate. 

They said NASA will be the science supplier and the funnel for astronaut needs, but commercial lunar partnerships will supply a conduit to get the agency’s science instruments to places like the moon and Mars. 

Asked about getting freight to Mars, all three agree the moon is the first step, with the goal of establishing a space home base on the lunar surface in the next decade, then looking at Mars by 2030. 

A current project centers around sustainability needs and practices to establish in space. NASA is working to recycle things sent into orbit, and this project may help drive sustainability efforts back on Earth.

Wiese, Briggs and McDonald want people to remember that NASA isn’t just about space. The first A stands for aeronautics. 

This means people need to understand innovation and market growth can come from things like drone technology or air flight. Innovation doesn’t have to involve rockets or space travel to be relevant to NASA’s mission, they said.

Kaylee Nix

Kaylee Nix is a meteorologist and reporter for FreightWaves. She joined the company in November of 2020 after spending two years as a broadcast meteorologist for a local television channel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Kaylee graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2018 and immediately made the Tennessee Valley her home. Kaylee creates written summaries of FreightWaves live podcasts and cultivates the social media for FreightWaves TV.