The View From Here

Sail We Must: Embracing Change

Written by: developer

Dear friends and colleagues,

Thanks to all of you, it has been another tremendously successful year for our Space Foundation and the global space community it serves. Major milestones have been reached, records have been set and the critical role of space and space-related capabilities has never been more widely recognized.

We have also seen our share of change over the past 12 months. The evolutionary changes within our industry continue as it heads further along the path toward commercialization, there are major changes in space players, of which the expanding Chinese program is a prime example, and the results of the recent U.S. elections signal more changes yet to come. The fact is, that change is inevitable, inescapable and often, not just a little unnerving. And, of course, we are going through a change in our own leadership here at the Space Foundation.

Whether at the national or the personal level, we have all experienced change, along with the challenges that accompany any shift. Whether planned or imposed, gradual or sudden, the approach we take to dealing with change is what makes the difference between long-term failure or success.

When we think about change, we should be sure to think about the possibilities and opportunities, as well as the challenges. Were it not for change we would never have learned to fly, or have broken the sound barrier. Landing men on the moon would still be a distant dream. And we would not enjoy the many practical, life-improving benefits that space exploration has given us. We certainly would not be enjoying the more than 100,000 visitors to our amazing Space Foundation Discovery Center since opening our doors just a few years ago.

It is important to understand that change is really about the choices we make, the opportunities we seize and how we shape the future. Metaphorically, we are all going to be tomorrow much more than we can see today. Just take a look at your high school yearbook and you’ll see what I mean!

Any path toward real change is best walked together. It is important that we continue to form and strengthen partnerships that complement and build upon each other, based on what is good for all of our organizations and our industry. ‘Us and them’ must be ‘we.’ If we aim for what is best for all of us, focus our collective energy and take responsibility for our choices, then we really can help determine the future.

Your Space Foundation is committed to facilitating that dialogue and supporting the efforts of all of you. As space professionals, you’ve shown time and again that a talented team of people who receive top level support can achieve the impossible. Or at least pretty darned close to it.

All of us at the Space Foundation envision a continuously brighter future, and we move toward it with confidence. We welcome the opportunity, working with all of you, to both improve the space environment we have, while working to shape the environment we want.

With 2017 just around the corner, the 33rd Space Symposium promises to be, yet again, the best ever. As this year ends, it is time to do the important work of reflecting and preparing ourselves to continue our mission to inspire, enable and propel. A couple of years ago, in some remarks I made at the Symposium, I included one of my favorite quotes about moving forward. It is attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, and I share it here again as a concluding thought:

“Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it — but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor”

All the best,

ADM James O. Ellis, Jr., USN (Ret.)        
Chairman, Space Foundation Board of Directors

This article is part of Space Watch: December 2016 (Volume: 15, Issue: 12).