The current version of our Mission Statement is “Promote the progression of humanity into a Space Faring Civilization by developing an open spaceflight infrastructure that promotes entry by private enterprise.” I would like to take some time to reflect on what this means, particularly in light of our desire to see space access be “routine, reliable, and safe.”
It is often best to start with your goal in mind, so let us address what it means to be a “Space Faring Society”. In truth, it means that we routinely visit space, in reliable and safe vehicles just as a Seafaring society routinely sails the seas in reliable and safe ships. This connection between “routine, reliable, and safe” access to space and what it means to be a Space Faring Society explains our appreciation for describing our goals in terms of “routine, reliable, and safe.” But, as I think about it, there are some things we have left out of the list. First, access to space needs to be sustainable. If we only have routine, reliable and safe access to space for 25 years at a time, punctuated by 5 year gaps, then we are still falling short of what it means to be a Space Faring Society. In time, there must also come an economic incentive for going to space routinely, or we will not have a reason to continue to go to space as a society (no matter how badly some of us want to go).
With the goal well laid out, routine, sustained, reliable, and safe access to space supported by market demands, what does the first part of the mission statement say? First, it addresses the fact that we are not living up to our goals in space flight today, “Promote the progression.” Secondly, it says that we want this access to space for all mankind. Under today’s regulations, those of us in the United States must be certain to obey the requirements of ITAR. But, as we make technological progress in the United States, we must also remember to seek opportunites to make political progress to support sharing our discoveries and technologies with the people of other nations.
Finally, the last phrase in the Mission Statement explains how we believe we can best get there today, and not 50 years from now, which is to develop “open” designs for technologies to support access to space. By “open” we mean designs that have been dedicated to the public domain so that all may share in the results and build upon them without the fear of patents undoing one’s work. The technologies in question can be anything from communications protocols for on orbit vehicles to standards for interfaces such as docking ports, to entire launch vehicles, and anything in between.
So, there’s my best interpretation of our mission. We are seeking to help the world achieve routine, sustained, reliable, and safe access to space in support of evolving market demands by opening the development process to promote collaboration and rapid development.