Politics… Love it or hate it, politics is an important part of life and living in the days of the 24-hour news cycle has placed politics at the forefront of nearly everything. From water cooler conversations to dinner parties and everything in between, it seems that political talk is king. And although sometimes these conversations may feel otherworldly, the typical political talk is about the things that affect, or have the potential to affect us in our own little corner of the world. However, politics is definitely not just local or even national in scope. Politics and government extend far beyond our reach into the depths of outer space. Political issues such as spending and budgets, policy regarding exports, mining and exploration and even traffic are on the minds of scientists, lawyers and lawmakers across the globe.

Perhaps the number one hottest debated topic in the world of politics has been around the recent election and new President-elect. And as with any changing of the guard, many questions and concerns arise as to how the transition will affect us. For scientists, congressional members, space lawyers or anyone involved in the business of minding outer space, that is no different. While some representatives have promised to reorganize how the government manages space activities in a “disruptive manner”, others are focusing on growth in the areas of space policy. With talk of new members being added to the NASA Landing Team, government insiders are keeping a close eye on what that could mean for our space program. So far, the outlook seems favorable with members of the landing team looking to stay the course and protect NASA.

In addition, commercial space exploration may get a boost from the new administration. With the President-elect’s business acumen being widely known, it is really no surprise that commercial activities would be on the table. In fact, one of the new appointees to the landing team, Charles Miller, previously worked for NASA serving as Senior Advisor for commercial space from 2009 to 2012 when NASA was in the beginning stages of launching commercial space initiatives. The addition of Miller, coupled with the resumes of the other members of the landing team, has led some to consider if the US might be headed back to the moon, albeit in a more commercial way.

Shifting to another issue of great national concern, the military is looking to space with consideration of our next missile defense systems. Long relying on the Space-Based Infrared System to warn of missile launches, leaders at the Missile Defense Agency are turningfrom the terrestrial-based system to a space based system. With major world powers like China and Russia investing in hypersonic missiles that are very hard to track and destroy, the development of space-based interceptors that could track and target beyond the range of radar would be a huge step forward for our missile defense program. As Major General Roger Teague, director of space programs for the US Air Force acquisition office says, “It starts in space, our ability to detect those missile threats that might be posed against the US or our allies.”

While the political landscape is filled with uncertainties, one thing is certain and that is the old saying that “the only thing that is constant is change.” And when it comes to space and the vast opportunities that lie in front of us, change can be an exciting prospect.