A new organization announced Friday seeks to convince Texas politicians of the benefits of commercial space–and, in the process, become a “tipping point” for a broader national change in perspectives on government versus commercial spaceflight.
Speaking at the Space Access ’11 conference in Phoenix on Friday, longtime space advocate announced the formation of an organization called the Texas Space Alliance (which goes by the acronym TXA, to avoid any association with the Transportation Security Administration). The goal of the TXA, said Tumlinson, is to make Texas “not just the United States’ leader in space activities, but also the world’s leader in space activities” through supporting commercial space activities in the state.
A big part of that effort is to convince state legislators and the state’s congressional delegation of the importance of commercial space, something he said they’re generally oblivious to despite the presence of ventures like Blue Origin in the state. “Everything is built around the NASA legacy,” Tumlinson said. “We’re going to try and change that.”
One of the first efforts of the TXA, a 501(c)4 lobbying organization, is to win passage of state legislation that provides liability immunity for spaceflight operators in the state. Tumlinson said the TXA originally planned to draft its own legislation, then learned of already proposed legislation, SB 115, supported by Blue Origin, and is instead backing that. That bill passed the state Senate last month; Tumlinson said he expected the House to pass it next week and the governor to sign it “in a few weeks.” The TXA is also exploring other state legislation, such as a zero-g/zero-tax bill.
The long-term goal of the TXA, though, is to get state legislators, and members of Congress, to think of space as something more than just NASA. That’s been a problem with the past with the state’s Republicans, he said, who are typically very conservative on most issues, but when it comes to space, “support a socialist space program.” That, he argues, could have benefits beyond the state’s borders. “I believe that if we can change what happens in Texas, and if I can change the behavior of the Texas delegation in Congress via-à-vis commercial space, we can hit a tipping point that begins to push the entire nation into opening the frontier.”