Much can be and has been said about the Presidential campaign of Mr. Donald J. Trump, leading up to the U.S. Presidential Elections in 2016. From an unprecedented self-examination of the electorate, to those watching from abroad, we collectively understand the weight of the Office he seeks, the history behind who has sat in the Oval Office before him, the impact of the seat of the Executive and the widespread ramifications for the rest of the world, come November’s elections—no matter the victor.
The Republican and Democratic conventions are a political milestone in the race for the U.S. Presidency and given their commencement, I’d like to talk about one such particular milestone—A woman who's appearance may have put Space at center stage, as she took to the podium at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
As a former military instructor, Eileen Collins was the first female to pilot a Space Shuttle in 1995 and first female commander of a Space Shuttle in 1999. She logged 38 days, 8 hours and 10 minutes in outer Space. Being the epitome of women empowerment and a role model for Space Stewardship, in addition to her ability to speak to Mr. Trump’s business acumen and his determination to keep America safe by any means necessary, I sincerely hope that the opportunity was leveraged to offer clarity on America's role as a pioneering Spacefaring nation and the inherent direction for Mr. Trump—should he be elected as President.
As an accomplished businessman, Mr. Trump has showcased enthusiasm about the commercialization of Space, stating that he “likes [commercialization] even better” than a public Space program; he once stated on Twitter that “...It is very sad to see what @BarackObama has done with NASA. He has gutted the program and made us dependent on the Russians;” Conversely, he “loves what [space exploration] continues to represent.”
Therefore, the mission briefing at the RNC should be, not to simply encourage mankind’s ever-lasting sense of discovery under American stewardship, but to usher in a new era of co-dependence in Space exploration through the peaceful application of Space Science and Technology on Earth.
Could there be a more fitting example of peace-making and international cooperation than in Space, via the International Space Station where partner nations work in harmony to improve the human condition and spirit? Colonel Collins' presence at the RNC is no doubt momentous and timely to re-iterate such a multilateral understanding.
Mr. Trump regards Space to be a wonderful thing and remarked that the United States “…needs to have victories again; in the aerospace industry, one of our biggest victories was putting a man on the Moon." However, there is no doubt that at present, he is more determined about first tackling bigger issues like building a “strong economic base,” "…to fix America's potholes" and accordingly, to “…building the infrastructure at home," which from his stance, takes precedence to a Manned Mission to Mars, for instance. While in many ways rightly so, this may be a cause of concern to those who currently lead the biggest private Space Enterprises in the United States.
Mr. Trump’s counterpart, Mrs. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNo Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way The dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE, prospectively participating at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia (DNC), so too showcases support for not only NASA and its Space Programmes, but likewise, for the commercial Space industry. Despite seeing her dream of becoming an Astronaut shattered as a young woman when NASA rejected her application on the grounds of not accepting women candidates, she is routinely seen breaking ceilings–be they glass or orbital.
To this end, Space Trust, a non-partisan enterprise I recently founded, seeks to partner with like-minded leaders, innovators and pioneers in the pursuit of leveraging the advent of commercial Spaceflight, which opens Space to all sectors. Accordingly, we have an opportunity to make Space research and its exploration sector 'Great Again', by making Space a New Frontier for Peace and by creating lasting international cooperation, both on Earth and from Orbit.
Given Ms. Collins' courage and stellar career as a 'Space Generation' Woman Leader, I hope light can be shed on how America can return to ‘Greatness’ via Mr. Trump's legacy, in making Space exploration, not only a means for gender equality, but in today’s new Space Age—a stepping stone to Space diplomacy.
On that note, whoever becomes the next President of the United States, I hope, would embrace lasting geopolitical, global and indeed Spatial evolution to propel the American legacy in Space. The future is in the hands of the next leader and the opportunity no doubt ‘Huge.’
Namira Salim is a globally recognized pioneering polar explorer, Founder and Chairperson of Space Trust, an enterprise devoted to Making Space the New Frontier for Peace. She is also a Founder Astronaut of Virgin Galactic and is based in the Principality of Monaco. The views expressed here are her own. Follow Namira @NamiraSalim