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How the recently dissolved California Space Authority wasted millions of dollars in federal earmarks and grants

How the recently dissolved California Space Authority wasted millions of dollars in federal earmarks and grants.

Sadly, this story is typical of many quasi-public/private authorities, most of which have nothing to do with the aerospace industry. There is a lot of one hand washing the other, using money the federal government nonchalantly gives away as if it is water.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

One comment

  • Daniel

    The article you link to and your commentary is a specious.

    Here’s a little background information that might educate you and your readers about the situation.

    The California Space Authority was a membership-based organization. It’s members paid dues to maintain its advocacy functions on behalf of the space enterprise community. While it did obtain government contracts from time to time to perform specific functions or tasks, it cannot be considered a taxpayer-funded organization. It may be fair to criticism contracts where deliverables weren’t utilized, but place blame where blame is due. CSA faithfully and successfully completed all of its contractual obligations and in many cases the programs they managed were implemented. However, when products were shelved by state and/or federal government bureaucrats when they were completed be sure your charges of waste are placed where they belong. No contractor can control what the contracting authority does with the contracted work.

    In fact, CSA’s many successes included a total refurbishment of dilapidated and abandoned engine test stands at the Air Force Research Laboratory in the Mojave Desert (which, by the way, are very much now in use). Considering the closure of many other test stand facilities in California due to civic encroachment, this effort has been very successful in maintaining engine testing business California — read that as generating jobs and tax revenue to this state. CSA also worked with the FAA to establish the rules and regulations that today govern inland space launch and , paving the way for the growth of commercial space launch technologies which have, up to now, largely based themselves in California. And, CSA has been the leading advocate in stopping the cable industry from securing state imposed taxes on satellite television service. With out CSA, that opposition is no longer. These are just a few of the many, many activities and successes that have come from CSA. It could certainly never have been likened to an organization having “nothing to do with the aerospace industry.”

    I’m sure you and your readers also know that virtually every other space organization in the country is a taxpayer function. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority is a government entity. Spaceport Florida is a function of the Governor’s office of Florida and paid for wholly with taxpayer funds. It’s leadership was appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. Alaska, Utah, Colorado, Virginia, Maryland, Texas and even Wisconsin are largely state government organizations. In California, however, CSA was not a government entity. It was non-profit organization and its leadership was elected from amongst the industry itself.

    As for the Space Center, CSA had been working with the Air Force at Vandenberg in hopes of siting the facility on federal property so that it might move via the federal NEPA process. Once it was learned that the center had to go through state CEQA regulations instead of the NEPA process, CSA pulled the project and the City of Lompoc stepped in to help. But the land offered up for the facility by the City ended up not being compatible for all aspects of the Center. This land was dedicated only for educational purposes and the Space Center only penciled out if it included an office park for Vandenberg contractors. With no site for the project, fundraising was futile and with no fundraising the Board of Directors chose to end the project and close the organization.

    Hopefully, the City of Lompoc can salvage the concept of a Space Center. But it’ll be too late for the good work done by the good people of CSA.

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