The Forum: Here's what it will take to update our aging space infrastructure

Here's what it will take to update our aging space infrastructure
By Rick Trefzer, Class of 2024

Conference information:

These essays are the views of the authors alone and do not represent the positions of the Texas Lyceum.


Here's what it will take to update our aging space infrastructure
By Rick Trefzer, Class of 2024

The Texas Lyceum offered an important opportunity to learn about the space industry and its connection to the economy and security of our state and nation. Walking away from the public conference this year, I have a new perspective of what is happening in space, how it is relevant and why it should matter. I suspect I wasn’t alone.


Emphasis is being placed on providing the necessary infrastructure to establish Texas as a leader in space. Although hope was expressed by an impressive group of private and public sectors speakers, I left these conversations curious about our ability to adequately focus our efforts and resources to win the space race.


Visiting some of the aging government physical infrastructure further reinforced the opinion of several panelists who warned that we are behind. Beyond that immediate emotion to redirect federal funding to ensure we don’t fall further behind, I wonder how to justify diverting funds from priorities such as education, aging infrastructure (on earth) or other critical needs? Especially given our nation’s financial situation.


It was obvious to me that it will take an incentivized private sector and disciplined leadership to correct the current course. This dilemma provides motivation to cheer on companies such as Axiom Space Inc., Blue Origin, Intel, Intuitive Machines, SpaceX and many others who are competing for this growing market and the possibility of tremendous profits.


The relationship between the private industry’s workforce needs and our education system was highlighted throughout the discussions. Research presented by the Texas Lyceum Fellow, Kelly O’Reilly, demonstrated a disconnect between the locations of these innovative businesses that will drive us forward and the education available to those living in the surrounding communities. Space exploration is just another example of the urgency we face to supply an adequate workforce for the greater economy. The need for collaboration and coordination in addressing these challenges cannot be overstated.


There is a huge opportunity to enhance the narrative of space exploration to connect and establish a unified position among Americans and our leaders. Not only is space cool, but the potential outcomes for industry and medicine, and the prospect of becoming an interplanetary species, are transformational. Additionally, the importance of this subject to economic and national security must be recognized. That hasn’t changed since President Kennedy delivered his speech at Rice University 60 years ago: “It is time to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear” because the consequences of not being first are too important.


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