Over the next few weeks, we here at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies will be sharing 20 interesting facts and anecdotes that we've accumulated over the past two decades. We look forward to another 20 years serving our country through providing guidance in the world of science and technology policy and innovation. Please enjoy one of our 20 interesting facts today:

In 1997, the Potomac Institute concluded their NASA funded research on the importance of National Aeronautics and Space Administration becoming more industry-friendly to attract commercial investment in the International Space Station (ISS) and other manned activities in low earth orbit. Increased privatization of space assets (to eventually include the ISS and its resupply) could relieve NASA’s declining budget. With an increased budget, they could take on future space challenges, like exploration missions to Mars.

The study found eight promising commercial ventures, ranging from the “virtual presence” to gallium arsenide thin film devices and macromolecular crystallography for medical and drug products. The Institute suggested that NASA take a “privatization-to-commercialization” approach to the commercialization of human space flight. This would help NASA to reduce its costly “space infrastructure” operations in the private sector and support promising commercial ventures. “NASA should normalize human orbital space flight by spinning off mature space operation to commercial operators while encouraging non-aerospace customers to use these assets,” said Dr. James Richardson in 1997 while he was the study director.

The results of the study were convincing that commercialization of human orbital space flight could offer significant benefits to NASA and the United States. The conclusions of this research were well received by NASA and Congress.

Please refer to Dr. Richardson’s Congressional Testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics and see the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies study here.


The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Ballston Metro Center Office Towers
901 North Stuart Street, Suite 1200
Arlington, VA 22203
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Our Mission

The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is an independent, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit public policy research institute. The Institute identifies and aggressively shepherds discussion on key science and technology issues facing our society. From these discussions and forums, we develop meaningful science and technology policy options and ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government.


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