Thomas Andrew Olson
Co-founder and interim Chair, CSCF.space
July 15, 2021
Yesterday, July 14th, Blue Origin’s recently-formed foundation, Club for the Future, announced that no less than nineteen long-running space advocacy organizations would each receive US$1,000,000 in grants, so they could expand their visionary, aspirational, and inspirational pursuits, to help humanity take that leap, a million years in the making, from the savannah to the stars.
This was an event that, frankly, was decades in the making, and I couldn’t be happier that a lot of us who have been in the trenches all that time got to see those great efforts rewarded with recognition and a much needed boost.
My first gut reaction at seeing this news, was, of course, “It’s about time!“. I’ve worked with several of these organizations, in one way or another, for well over a quarter century, and know from personal experience the struggle it takes to get the message out. So many have done so much, for so long, with so little, that it boggles the mind to see what has become, at long last, of that collective far-ranging vision.
Private companies sending paying customers to the edge of space, and soon, to orbit. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Billions are being raised by hundreds of private-sector companies, every year, in every aspect of space commercial development. Space advocacy had a lot to do with that, whether it was lobbying Congress for a better regulatory environment, crafting new financial tools to get the job done, or helping develop and boost great new startup companies.
There are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of other space advocacy groups out there that did not make that first cut. And in most cases, for good reason. We’re smaller, less influential, not perceived as seasoned, and perhaps only have modest accomplishments we can point to – thus far, at least. We haven’t had that test of time, most of us, so we begrudge nothing to those who got the nod. But I have to say, many of those “new” advocacy organizations out there – including this one – have people in them who learned their chops as a member/volunteer for one or more of the First Nineteen. And – to be even more blunt about it – I say that their success is, in fact, a success for all of us, as it establishes, at long last, a sense of vindication and gravitas for space advocacy, as an avocation for thousands of individuals throughout the world. It is a direct acknowledgement, from the industry itself, that our hard and often thankless work is indeed paying off. So we can all stand a little taller today, and cheer this achievement, as it offers everyone renewed hope for the future.
So a heartfelt thank you to the Club for the Future for their generosity and vision, hearty congratulations to all the First Nineteen, and a special shout-out to those I worked with personally for many years at the Space Frontier Foundation, NSS, SEDS, Teachers in Space, IAF, and the Mars Society.
I’ll say it again: This win for space advocacy, yesterday, was a win for all of us. The public attention gained from this step will reverberate and amplify going forward – and together we will all achieve even more incredible things, with lasting results.
And our descendants will inherit the stars.
Thomas Andrew Olson has been involved in space advocacy, in some way, going back to the the mid-1970’s. He is interim Chair and co-Founder of the Center for Space Commerce and Finance, a past board member of the Space Frontier Foundation, co-founder of the “business track” at both International Space Development Conference, and the International Astronautical Congress, and has a love for seeing space, space-related, and space-scalable startups off to a great beginning. He is a past judge of SEDS business pitch events, and a lifetime member of the Mars Society.
His “day job” is Director of Business Development for Avealto Ltd., in the UK.