To Create a Private Market Do Governments Need To Kickstart Space Programs?

Bhavya Lal, Associate Administrator for Technology, Policy, and Strategy at NASA, joined Hosts Charity Weeden and Chris Blackerby to discuss the transition to her role at NASA.

As a former employee at the Institute for Defense Analysis and the Science and Technology Institute, Lal switched from research to management. “I’m really blessed with the leadership at NASA,” she said of her role.

Lal grew up in a STEM family; her father was an electrical engineer and her mother studied math. “The idea that one could be gifted was never even brought up. You did well in school because you worked hard, not because you were smart or had some advantage,” Lal said of her upbringing. “I’ve found the idea that hard work can overcome any disadvantages to be my superpower.”

Daily, Lal has 10 to 15 meetings, which makes for long hours. She works closely with the National Space Council, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Federal Aviation Administration. She has found some of the hardest things in society are not technical but are policy-based and must be examined wholistically with a long-term view.

Governments and individuals or businesses are the space industry customers. However, not many individuals and businesses cannot afford services, so Lal believes the government should kickstart certain programs and then private customers will emerge. “Let’s not have this mad dash to discovering a private market that may not already exist. Let’s work to build it,” she said.

In terms of diversity, Lal emphasized the importance of the fields individuals come from. “There’s a myriad of examples of how disruptive thinking comes from the outside,” she stated. “Our innovations will come from diverse thoughts, not trying to repeat what we’ve done before.”

More in This Series

This Season’s Mission Will Be Making Space Relatable

The Evolving Diplomatic Side of Space Sustainability

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